Keeping older people warm, safe and healthy this winter

Senior Help Line, the phone service for older people, by older people has published a list of winter tips to help people cope with the changing weather.

Senior Help Line, the phone service for older people, by older people has published a list of winter tips to help people cope with the changing weather.

With winter finally beginning to take hold, the advocacy group are issuing some sensible advice for older people and for their neighbours, friends and family.

Senior Helpline CEO, Aine Brady, explained the thinking behind the initiative.

“Winter, with its short days and long cold nights, can be a very difficult time for many people. Older people tend to go into a kind of hibernation, staying indoors as much as possible while waiting for spring to make an appearance once again. If you live on your own and have few social outlets - as is the case with many older people - being cut off can increase your sense of isolation and loneliness. Added to this people have the extra stress of meeting their ever increasing energy bills.”

Established 15 years ago to help the tackle isolation and loneliness experienced by many older people, the Senior Help Line phone service is open every day from 10am to 10pm on 1850 440 444. The Lo Call service (no call costing more than 30 cent), offers a unique phone contact for older people provided by trained older volunteer. People call to discuss the daily happenings in their lives, to discuss problems or crises, to receive information about other services and, most of all, for the support of a friendly, empathic listening ear.

Senior Helpline Winter Tips:

Keep Warm – Dress for warmth, and wear plenty of layers, which trap the heat, rather than one heavy garment. Fill a hot water bottle and have it on your lap during the day. Check that your radiators are not blocked and that they are bled if needed. We lose a lot of heat through the head, so if really cold a night, wear a night-cap in bed.

Stay Connected – When the weather is dry and not too cold try to get outside and meet people. Don’t forget to wear a hat, gloves and scarf and non slip boots on icy days. Stay in touch with neighbours, family and friends.

Keep Active – If it is too cold and windy to get outside, keep active indoors. Don’t sit for hours at a time. Stand up and move around the house at least once an hour. Try some chair-based exercises - wiggle your toes, shake your hands, move your head side to side and move your arms up and down.

Exercise Your Brain – Keeping an active mind is very important, particularly as we get older. Read books, do crosswords or puzzles, keep up to date with current affairs.

Check your smoke alarms – Not just advice for older people, smoke alarms can save your life.

Get the ‘flu jab – As an older person, you are at a greatest risk of getting the flu, which can have more severe consequences in your age group. The vaccine protects you for about one year and should be taken annually. If you have a Medical Card or a GP Visit Card, the vaccine and consultation are free.

Call Senior Help Line – Don’t be alone. Senior Help Line is at the end of the line every day of the year, winter and summer from 10am till 10pm. LoCall 1850 440 444. We look forward to hearing from you.

Be Safe at Home – Be careful about opening the door particularly at night. Invest in a door viewer to see who is calling, and a door chain to control entrance to your home as necessary. Always ask for identification from people calling to your door.

Drive Carefully – Arrange for your car to have a winter service, get the oil checked, make sure the brakes are working properly and tyres are at the correct pressure this can help keep you safe. Keep a de-mister, a light rug or jumper in the car.

Eat Healthy – Soups, stews and curries are a good choice in winter, and you can always make enough for a few days. Start a store cupboard and stock it with tinned soup, tinned fish, baked beans, pasta and rice to keep you going should you become snowed in.

Reach Out – The most important tip to keep in mind during the colder months is to ask for help if you need it. This might mean asking for a lift to church, to the local shops, to the pharmacy or even getting help with bringing in coal or fuel.