Each winter one older person dies every seven minutes from the cold weather [i]. With this in mind, everyone here at Age UK County Durham wants to ensure older people are fully prepared for the winter months ahead. The cold poses some very real dangers for older people and winter can be a very difficult time, especially those who live alone or who are housebound, so we do all we can to help you prepare for the colder weather and get through it.
Professor Keith Willett, NHS England’s Clinical Director for Acute Care, said: “Every year in the NHS, we see a huge increase in numbers of emergency admissions to hospital over the colder months. Those with existing chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma or breathing problems are particularly vulnerable, and for frailer people, even the common cold can trigger a hospital stay. I urge people to stay warm and if you’re feeling unwell, to seek advice early rather than allowing problems to fester. We want to avoid the traditional outbreak of stoicism – the desire to soldier on and not to ‘make a fuss’. If you’re feeling under the weather, the local pharmacy and NHS 111 can help, and if the symptoms don’t go away, contact your GP.”
Keep Warm, Keep Well Campaign
As part of our annual Keep Warm Keep Well campaign we are helping older people to understand just how much of a health risk the cold weather is and what they can do about it. We work in partnership across County Durham to help older people stay safe and well in winter and we have produced a handy leaflet full of practical top tips to stay warm this winter. Please click here to download the leaflet.
Here are some of our favourite top tips:
- Have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter.
- Keep your bedroom and main living room at 18° and 21°C (65° and 70°F) respectively. If you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and the bedroom before you go to sleep. Keep a check on room temperatures with a thermometer or the thermostat for your heating.
- Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer) and even a hat indoors or in bed if it’s really cold as a lot of body heat is lost through your head.
- Keep active – chair based exercises – moving your arms and legs and wiggling your toes are helpful if walking is difficult.
- Life can be more enjoyable with some company so join a group or take part in an activity that interests you. Contact the team at Come Eat Together on
0191 374 6577 to find out about activities taking place in your area. If you can’t visit friends or family make sure you ring them regularly for a chat.
Keep Warm Keep Well events
Our staff and volunteers at Age UK County Durham are organising Keep Warm Keep Well events around the county to provide information and advice about the health risks of cold weather, as well as safety testing electric blankets. These events are the perfect opportunity for older people, and those who care about them, to come down and find out about what they can do to beat the cold and stay well, including how Age UK County Durham can help. Our Come Eat Together staff and volunteers will be bringing information with them to events over the winter months and are happy to chat with you about keeping warm and safe.
Watch our Facebook page and Twitter feed to see where these are. You can see these on the right hand side of this page.
Winter Wrapped Up guide
You can also call Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65 to order a free copy of the guide Alternatively click here to download a pdf version of the guide
Get a free flu jab if you are in a high risk group or aged 65+. Click here to download a copy of the Age UK Flu Prevention Leaflet .
How about holding a winter warming event to support our work?
This winter we are asking if people would like to organise a Winter Warmth coffee morning or fundraising event to support our work in tackling loneliness. Click here for a copy of the flier. If you are interested, please contact the Come Eat Together team on 0191 374 6577 or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you a fundraising pack full of ideas.
[i] Age UK estimate, using a ten-year average 2003/4 to 2012/13, from Excess Winter Mortality in England and Wales, ONS, November 2013.