Do you worry about staying healthy throughout the winter? Cold weather can have a big impact on an older person’s health. Studies have shown that cold weather causes a massive increase in associated health problems including heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia, depression, worsening arthritis and increased accidents at home (associated with loss of strength and dexterity in the hands). Look after your mind and body this winter with these 6 top tips:
Hot meals and drinks help to keep you warm, so eat at least one hot meal each day and have hot drinks throughout the day. Having a hot drink before bed and keeping one in a flask by your bedside is also recommended.
Include a good range of foods in your diet and aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables each day so that you’re getting plenty of nutrients and vitamins.
Cold homes have a significant impact on people’s health. One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm. This will help to prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and depression.
3.Have your flu jab
If you are over 65, the Government recommends that you have a seasonal flu jab every year. Flu is not only unpleasant; it can also develop into pneumonia, which can be serious.
Your jab will be free if:
- you’re 65 or over
- you receive Carer’s Allowance or are the carer for a person whose welfare will be at risk if you fall ill
- you have a condition such as diabetes, a chronic heart, lung, kidney or liver problem, Parkinson’s, or if you have had a stroke
As it can take up to ten days for the vaccine to take effect it’s best to have it early on in the winter.
4.Give up smoking
This is a good thing for your overall health, as smoking lowers your immune system and can cause serious health conditions. After you stop smoking, you’ll quickly notice that you’re breathing is easier and that doing any exercise is more comfortable.
Ask your GP practice about NHS services to help you give up. Call the free NHS Smokefree helpline on 0800 022 4332.
5.Protect yourself against chilblains
Chilblains are itchy red swellings that occur when your skin gets cold and you try to warm up too quickly, often by sitting close to a radiator or other source of heat.
If you suffer from these, dab the swellings with calamine or witch hazel to reduce itching, but don’t scratch them as this could cause an infection. To help prevent chilblains, keep your whole body warm at all times. Speak to your pharmacist for advice on treating chilblains and to your GP if you regularly get them or have diabetes.
6.Keep your spirits up
It’s not unusual to feel a bit down in winter – particularly when the days are short and it can get dark by 4pm. It helps to do something you enjoy every day.
Try to keep to your usual routine and if you can’t visit friends or family, phone or Skype them regularly.
If possible, go for a short walk in the middle of the day, if it’s not too cold, or at least go outside while there is daylight.
If you feel down for several weeks and it’s stopping you going out, making you feel listless and lacking in energy, it’s very important to share these feelings with someone – perhaps a friend or your GP.
For further information on keeping healthy this winter, click here