Winter Advice for the Elderly – 5 Top Tips

Keeping healthy during the cold winter months is often a source of concern for elderly people and their families. This is even worse in recent years with the cost of living crisis making it harder to stay warm and healthy. So how do the elderly stay healthy during winter?

To stay healthy during winter, elderly people should ensure that they:

  • Get their flu, pneumonia, and COVID jabs
  • Wrap up warm both inside and outside the house
  • Keep the house at a temperature of around 21°C 
  • Stay hydrated
  • Wear good shoes to avoid slips and falls
  • Avoid contact with anybody that they know to be sick

Read on to find out more about how the elderly can stay healthy during winter, how to keep warm as an elderly person during winter, how to stay hydrated, and what to do when leaving the house.

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How Do the Elderly Stay Healthy During Winter?

With colder weather than usual in store for much of the country this winter, it is important for older people to take extra precautions to stay safe and healthy. 

The older we get, the more susceptible we are to bacterial and viral infections. We also lose heat and dehydrate faster. Often, as our eyesight and hearing begin to deteriorate, it affects our balance and we are more likely to fall and injure ourselves. This is compounded with breakdowns in our soft body tissues and bones, making it easier to get bruised or even fracture a bone. We wrote this blog with our top five tips that seniors can do to keep healthy this winter.

For more information on general health risks for the elderly, read our blog, health risks for the elderly here.

Flu, Pneumonia, and COVID Jabs for the Elderly

Whilst flu shots are a good idea for everyone, they have become essential for seniors. While a flu shot won’t protect against all the different flu viruses, it will protect against the major strains. Elderly people should also ask their doctor about pneumonia shots. People with less robust immune systems can benefit from a pneumonia shot. It can help keep a cold from turning into something worse that may put a senior in the hospital. Many local pharmacies, as well as hospitals, offer these injections.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, over 65’s can get a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the virus. While COVID is no longer as prevalent in the news, it can have a big impact on the health of an elderly person, so it’s advisable to book in for a vaccine.

Ways to Keep the Elderly Warm

As we age, our bodies lose heat at a much faster rate. Hypothermia can set in without much notice. Even if the weather is above freezing, seniors should still bundle up when going outside. If they wear layers, including a hat, older adults should be able to avoid exposure or hypothermia. Seniors should make sure to cover all their skin when going outside, including their hands. Frostbite is another cold weather hazard that seniors are more likely to suffer from, especially if they spend a lot of time outside without proper protection.

What Temperature Should an Elderly Person’s House Be?

What is the best house temperature for the elderly? This is an often-asked question that is even more important during the cold winter months. To prevent an elderly person from being too cold in their home, make sure the temperature doesn’t fall below 18°C

While this is the absolute minimum, they’ll be much more comfortable with a room temperature of around 21°C. This will ensure that they’re not feeling cold throughout the day.

With the cost of living crisis making heating a home more expensive, it’s better to put the heaters on a timer or thermostat throughout the day rather than leave the heating on all day. This will save on energy bills and ensure that the house is nice and toasty. Try setting it to half-hour periods of heating every few hours and see what timing works best for you and your home.

Importance of Hydration in the Elderly

Drinking enough water is often something we think about in the summer. But, the winter is also a time to watch hydration levels. With all the bundling up, and going in and out of heated buildings, people can lose a lot of moisture without even realising it. Often, the cold winter wind can also dehydrate older people easily. Seniors should drink lots of fluids. Even hot drinks like tea and hot chocolate will help with hydration.

Should Old People Go Out in Cold Weather?

As long as they’re adequately wrapped up, it’s important (and good for their health) to get some fresh air and exercise. Colder conditions are slicker than usual, so when going anywhere, even just for a short walk, they should make sure they wear shoes with good tread

It is also important to budget extra time when going anywhere. Most winter falls happen when people are in a hurry. It is better to arrive late than fall and get seriously injured. Many senior citizens can benefit from a cane or walker when going outside in the winter, even if they normally walk fine without assistance.

How Can Seniors Exercise at Home?

To stay fit this winter, we found seven exercises that can be done at home when it’s too cold to go outside:

  1. Walking – This is an easy way to move around without risking overexertion. Simply walk around the house to stay active.
  2. Doing Chores – Keeping the house tidy and organised will not only improve a person’s mental health but also help them stay active. 
  3. Balance Exercises – Since falls are a particularly important issue amongst the elderly during winter, training balance is one way to minimise this risk.
  4. Yoga & Tai Chi – These forms of movement are very low impact and work various muscles at once, making them perfect for elderly people.
  5. Dancing – This is a great way to enjoy some movement! Whether it’s with a partner, family member, or friend, dancing is a fun way for an elderly person to move their muscles and raise their heart rate.
  6. Resistance Training – While many people think that strength training is for young people, it’s actually very beneficial for all ages. Keep it light and use “body exercises” such as gentle squats or push-ups.
  7. Fitness Videos & Apps – There are thousands of videos on websites like YouTube, specifically aimed at exercise for the elderly. These are great for exercising alone!

How Can the Elderly Avoid Infections 

Take care and avoid getting into close personal contact with people who are sick. Even a simple childhood cold can attack the body of an elderly person much more aggressively, and if their immune system is already worn down from fighting off other winter illnesses, an elderly person can quickly get seriously ill.

Read our guide on elderly flu symptoms to see what you should look out for when out and about.

Elderly Care with Rivendell Care & Support

At Rivendell Care, we aim to make your life easier and add a bit of sunshine to your day, even if it’s cloudy and cold! If you’re finding everyday tasks more challenging and struggling to get out and about, it might be time to consider setting up care.
Our friendly carers love to take part and help you with your hobbies and activities, and think of themselves as companions more than carers. Get in touch with a member of our team or visit our Elderly Care Support page for more information.