Winter wellness: Keeping elderly people warm

Written by Ranger Home Care
15 December 2023

For the elderly, winter can present unique challenges. They are especially vulnerable in the winter months and it’s important that the elderly have support to stay well and keep them safe.

With colder weather comes an increased risk of health issues, including heart attacks and pneumonia.

This comprehensive guide offers practical tips to ensure the safety and well-being of older adults during the colder months.

Keeping warm at home

As we age, our body’s ability to retain heat decreases. This is due to thinner skin and a reduced metabolic rate. These changes make older adults more vulnerable to the cold and it’s important to keep this in mind to ensure their warmth and safety.

Here’s a list of tips for ensuring warmth for older adults in colder months:

1.    Maintain a consistent indoor temperature

Older adults are more susceptible to hypothermia, even in mildly cool temperatures. Keeping the home at a minimum of 18°C is crucial. Using a programmable thermostat will help with efficient heat regulation of the home.

It’s also important to have regular maintenance carried out on the heating systems to make sure they operate effectively and safely.

2.    Dress in layers

Wearing multiple layers of clothes will keep the elderly warmer than wearing just one thick layer. Layering allows for easier adjustment to varying indoor and outdoor temperatures. Start with a loose-fitting natural fibre layer, add a warm middle layer and top it off with a light outer layer. Use materials like wool or fleece for extra warmth.

3.    Use quality bedding

Quality bedding plays a crucial role in keeping elderly people warm and comfortable during cold months. It’s important to choose bedding that insulates effectively, utilising materials specifically designed for warmth.

Use bedding made from down, wool or thermal fabrics, as these materials are known for their superior heat retention properties. Layering these types of bedding can also provide additional warmth, adapting to the varying needs of the elderly.

Comfortable and warm bedding not only promotes better sleep, which is vital for overall health, but also helps in maintaining a consistent body temperature throughout the night.

For added warmth, consider using electric blankets, but always ensure they are used safely, following all manufacturer guidelines to prevent any risks.

4.    Warm footwear and accessories

When keeping the elderly warm in cold weather, it’s important for them to wear warm shoes and accessories like hats and gloves. These items help trap body heat, especially in the feet and hands, preventing heat loss and cold air from getting in.

They also improve blood circulation, making them more comfortable and mobile. Additionally, warm shoes and accessories protect against cold-related health issues like frostbite.

5.    Hot meals and drinks

Hot meals and drinks are essential for keeping older adults warm. They provide immediate warmth when consumed and continue to keep them warm as they digest.

These hot foods and beverages also improve blood circulation, ensuring better heat distribution throughout the body. They contribute to hydration and nutrition, promote overall well-being and provide energy to stay active and maintain body temperature.

6.    Physical activity

Physical activity is a great way for the elderly to keep warm. It gets the blood flowing, which helps distribute heat throughout the body, keeping it warm. Activities like light walking, stretching or chair exercises can be particularly beneficial. Exercise also generates body heat, raising the core temperature and providing warmth.

It’s beneficial because it can boost metabolism, which helps regulate body temperature and it maintains muscle mass, which produces heat. Physical activity is beneficial as it boosts metabolism, helping regulate body temperature and maintains muscle mass, which in turn produces heat.

It’s important to approach physical activity with caution in older adults. Before starting any new exercise regimen, it’s advisable for elderly individuals, especially those with mobility issues or existing health concerns, to consult with a healthcare provider. This ensures that the exercises are safe and tailored to their specific health needs.

7.    Seal drafts in the home

Sealing drafts in the home is a great way to keep older adults warm. It stops cold air from coming inside, making the indoor space cosier. This helps maintain a consistent temperature inside, reducing the need for higher heating, which can lower energy bills.

It’s not only more comfortable but also healthier, as it prevents cold-related health issues. Plus, it’s especially helpful for older adults on fixed incomes who want to save on heating costs.

8.    Using the sunlight

Opening curtains during the day to let sunlight in is a simple and effective way to allow heat into the house. Sunlight naturally warms up indoor spaces and reduces the need for heating, saving on energy costs. It also boosts mood, making the home feel cosier and more inviting.

9.    Warm baths

Warm baths are a great way to stay warm. They raise the body’s temperature, providing instant warmth and comfort. Beyond the physical benefits, warm baths are relaxing, making an elderly person feel mentally better.

They also enhance blood circulation, ensuring heat is distributed throughout the body effectively. It’s important to maintain a warm bathroom environment to prevent any chills after the bath. Taking a warm bath before bedtime can also improve the quality of sleep, adding to their overall warmth and well-being.

10.          Heating aids

Heating aids, such as space heaters and heating pads, help older adults stay warm in specific areas of their homes. They warm up quickly and can be adjusted for comfort.

Using them in preferred spots can save on energy costs, and they have safety features to prevent accidents, making them valuable for staying warm and cosy.

11.          Social visits and wellness checks

Visits from carers and wellness checks are vital to ensure that the elderly are keeping warm and well. Carers can make sure the heating system is working and help with dressing appropriately for the weather. These visits also provide emotional support, reducing loneliness and promoting self-care, which helps with staying warm.

Carers can also help the elderly get support through Age UK’s Warm Homes programme. This is an initiative that makes sure older people have access to all the benefits they’re entitled to.  

Quality, compassionate live-in care

It’s essential that we keep the elderly warm, especially in the colder months. Ranger Home Care is a family-operated business providing top-quality live-in care for adults across the UK. Our reputation is built on delivering personalised care and have been recognised by health authorities for our effective and easy-to-understand services.

If you want to learn more about our services or have any questions, please contact us. You can call us at 01252-850-040 or email natalie@rangerhomecare.com. We’re here to help you find the best care for your loved one.

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