As we get older, our bodies respond differently to the cold which can leave us more vulnerable to health problems. But with a little preparation, and by following some simple suggestions, you can stay healthy, safe and comfortable this winter.
Dr Andy Maddox, Clinical Chief for Out of Hospital for Morecambe Bay: “Cold temperatures can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of flu and other lung-related problems. Our blood pressure takes longer to return to normal, and this can put you at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke. That’s why it’s so important to look after yourself in the winter.”
Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Keep moving - Staying active will not only keep you fit and healthy, it will also generate heat to keep you warm.
- Eat and drink well - Eat at least one hot meal each day and have hot drinks throughout the day.
- Have your yearly flu vaccine - Flu is not only unpleasant, it can also develop into something more serious, such as pneumonia.
- Clothing - Several thin layers of clothing will keep you warmer than one thick layer, as the layers trap warm air. Clothes made from wool or fleecy synthetic fibres such as polyester are a better choice than cotton. Start with thermal underwear, warm tights or socks.
- Use a hot-water bottle, wheat bag or an electric blanket to warm the bed.
- Check local news and weather forecasts for advice when cold weather is predicted.
To keep the heat in your home close the curtains in the evenings and fit thermal linings if you can. Keep your bedroom window closed at night when the weather is cold. The coldest time of the day is just before dawn and breathing in cold air increases the risk of chest infections.
Draught-proof doors and windows, insulate the loft, insulate the hot-water tank and pipes. These measures will help to keep your home warm and your energy bills down – and you may be able to get financial help to set these up. Keep your main living room heated to 21°C (70°F).Heat your bedroom to 18°C (64°F).
Dr Geoff Jolliffe, Clinical Chair for Morecambe Bay CCG added: “The cold weather can also affect people with mental health conditions, such as depression and dementia. You can help by checking up on older or vulnerable neighbours and relatives to make sure they are safe, well and warm enough, especially at night.
“If you're worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact your local council or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 678 1174 for more advice.”
It can help to be prepared and keep up to date with weather warnings and upcoming forecasts on the Met Office Website: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/
Find out more on how to keep yourself well and your home warm during winter: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/winterhealth/Pages/KeepWarmKeepWell.aspx