Exposure to cold temperatures through winter can affect anyone. However, the repercussions of the cold for the elderly is far greater. As we get older our bodies lose the ability to protect us against the cold and it is important to remain warm through other means.
The risk of respiratory problems, stroke, flu, heart events and hypothermia are increased during the cold months for care home residents. It is known that there is a sharp increase in winter cold related deaths as a result. Therefore, it is important to maintain a safe care home temperature both inside and out.
Here are seven economical tips to ensure your residents are warm, healthy and comfortable this winter:
1) Maintain a steady room temperature
Ensuring any care rooms stay between 18 and 21 degrees is important. Close curtains and doors to stop any through draughts. Check heating systems are in good working order on a regular basis and if the temperature drops significantly below 18 degrees then take swift action.
2) Appropriate clothing inside and out
Layered clothing and looking at the correct fabric types are vital to staying warm. Clothing made from wool or fleece synthetic fibres such as polyester are a better than cotton. Also, always remember to keep your feet, hands, neck and ears covered, as a lot of heat is lost through these points.
One idea is when indoors, to keep your feet raised off cold air at ground level and use a blanket when seated. These will help with residents keeping warm in winter. Another good clothing idea is non slip bed socks for residents and their thermal comfort.
3) Hot water bottles are always good to have in bed. Furthermore, thermal underwear helps keep your residents feeling toasty at all times of the day.
4) Movement is essential to get blood flowing and increase warmth. Try not to let residents sit still for over an hour. Just moving arms, shaking your legs and wriggling your toes will help boost circulation. Find out more here.
5) Keep your mental well-being exercised, short days and long nights can affect moods. Getting out when it’s light can help boost moods but if residents are feeling down to the point where you don’t want to go out, it is important to talk to someone. Ask family and friends if they can drop by more often or organise more regular phone calls and video chats with them.
6) Hot meals and drinks help to keep warm, It is important to eat at least one hot meal each day and have regular hot drinks throughout. Meals should be balanced and nutritious. You should aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables each day so that the body receives plenty of nutrients. Read more about good nutrition in care homes here.
7) Make sure you have a flu jab every year. Winter certainly sees an surge in the spreading of germs. Washing hands keeps them fresh and free of germs and contributes towards remaining healthy. Everyone aged 65 and over, a carer or if you have a certain health condition you are eligible for a free flu jab. Flu can increase your danger of more grave illnesses such as pneumonia so it is imperative that jabs are taken.