Helping the elderly during the winter months

There is no doubt that during the winter months when there are fewer hours of daylight and the weather is cold, the elderly can become much more isolated and their mental health can suffer, especially if they live alone.

This is going to be especially true during the 2020 winter because of the inevitable restrictions on meeting friends and family that have come with efforts to contain the Coronavirus pandemic. It is a time when keeping a kindly eye on elderly neighbours can make all the difference.

Here are some things you can do to help keep the elderly safe and happy in winter:

Do they have an emergency kit at home that is easily accessible? This should include water, a flashlight, spare batteries, a radio, and some blankets. They should also have at least a seven-day supply of prescription medications and a three-day supply of non-perishable food.

Is their home warm enough? The elderly face significant risks of being too cold, which includes dehydration. People with cardiac issues tend to get colder faster. Extra blankets and thick curtains can help too. Wearing several thin layers is better than one thick one because air can be trapped between the layers to keep warm.

Are they at risk of a fall if conditions become icy? Help to keep pathways clear and ice free for them.

Exercise: This is very important to help keep joints moving and to aid circulation. There are plenty of “armchair” exercises on the internet and on DVD’s that can help keep them mobile.

Nutrition: In winter it is vitally important to have plenty of nourishing and warming food such as thick soups and stews.

Mental health: Loneliness is a major concern. Mobile phones, laptops and computers can make a big difference to the loneliness and isolation that can beset the elderly in the winter.  A quick call or even a text message, or, increasingly online catchups using such platforms such as Zoom, can take away that feeling of isolation.