As the shorter and darker winter months slowly replace the brighter summer days, it is only normal to feel your mood dampening. This is particularly true for the elderly, who tend to stay indoors more than usual to avoid catching a cold and spending weeks in bed with a high temperature. Sadly, it is estimated that 20,000 more people aged over 65 pass away in the winter compared to any other time of the year.
That said, not only does the winter season negatively affect the physical well-being of our parents and grandparents, but it also has a significant impact on their mental health. With fewer people around to hug and chat to, they may find it challenging to keep their chin up.
From staying connected to being warm indoors, this article will outline a few tips about how you can keep an eye on the mental and physical health of your elderly relatives and friends this winter.
Elderly people generally take longer to warm up and tend to lose heat more rapidly. Indeed, blood circulation slows down as our bodies grow older. Therefore, wrapping up warm is fundamental for an older person.
Apart from relying on their central heating, which may sometimes represent a costly solution, there are other alternative ways in which the elderly can keep warm.
A hot water bottle, for instance, is the perfect option for when they are ready to snuggle down under the covers. It is ideal for those who do not want to sleep with the heating on but fear they may end up feeling cold during the night.
Not only is it a great bed companion, but the hot water bottle can also be used throughout the day. It can rest on their stomach and keep them warm while they watch television or take on the challenge of a crossword.
When moving from the bedroom to the living room, or vice versa, it is easy to be caught out by the dip in temperature. To combat this, indoor heaters provide an ideal solution. Easy to wheel from room to room, indoor heaters come with an array of portable advantages. With a handy indoor heater that follows them around the house, your elderly loved ones will be safe from sudden cold snaps.
Make sure, however, that they are maintained properly. In order to do so, it is recommended to book an appointment with an engineer on a biannual basis to check up on the heater’s state.
An Age UK research shows that every month, over one million elderly people do not get the chance to speak to a friend, neighbour, or even family. In the winter months, when older people have limited opportunities to get out and about, their feeling of loneliness can increase severely.
Therefore, a telephone call can do the world of good to their mental well-being. Indeed, the elderly are not always bothered about receiving help with their housework, but they truly cherish a nice chat with someone. Consider popping over for a cup of tea from time to time too.
Also, if your elderly friend or relative is feeling particularly lonesome, why not introduce them to Silver Line? This charity has a 24/7 phone line that helps people stay connected, with volunteers calling in once a week to have a good old heart-to-heart talk. Moreover, it can also help them get in contact with local services to meet other people and make new friends.
There is no hiding that a daily dose of exercise is crucial for us all – the elderly included. In truth, while some may still maintain a moderate physical ability, others may find it tricky to even manage the stairs. But certain types of exercise can accommodate pretty much anyone.
As outdoor strolls become more prohibitive due to the adverse winter conditions, it is important to find ways in which older people can keep active inside their homes. Encourage them to get up from their armchair every so often to put the kettle on. While not too strenuous, this ‘task’ will ensure that they spend some time on their feet.
If walking from room to room is a challenge in itself, simply shaking and moving their arms and legs can help. Moreover, there are plenty of exercise videos on YouTube for seniors to watch and have a go at. Some include simple sessions that they can try from the comfort of their sofas. This way, they will enjoy some all-important physical activity without tiring themselves out too much!
The winter months can be demoralising for a variety of reasons, and even more so for the elderly, as they may end up spending a lot of time without seeing or talking to anyone. We hope that this article will help you find ways to keep good care of your parents, grandparents, and ‘wiser’ friends, from ensuring that they are warm indoors to inciting them to stay as active as possible.