This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
Elderly care expert Annabel James shares 10 tips to help keep your elderly relatives safe and healthy this winter. Annabel has written many articles for us on elderly care – she has become our go-to wellbeing woman for the elderly. Click HERE for more of her informative articles.
The clocks are going back (or is it forward) and with all the chat about supply chains seizing up and fuel price uncertainty, now is the time to check up on elderly parents and relatives.
Make sure they’re ready for the ‘beast from the east’ or whatever might be coming our way this long dark winter.
Arrange for the boiler to be serviced
Every August, I think, “I must get the boiler serviced” and then promptly forget until about now, by which time an appointment is virtually impossible to arrange until the following Spring.
With any luck, your parents and relatives are more organised and maybe even have a contract for an annual service. If not, book a boiler service today and not next month.
Be sure also there is enough fuel – oil, wood or coal to heat their home.
You could fit foil panels behind radiators to reflect the heat back into the rooms for a more energy-efficient winter. Please have a look in the loft and see how well it is insulated (there may be some funding available for this, too) and go the whole hog and lag the pipes. Whilst you’re there, check where the stopcock is, just in case we get a really cold snap, cold enough to freeze the pipes.
If fuel bills are of concern, investigate switching suppliers. Although beware, several energy companies – often those with very seductive introductory tariffs – are going out of business due to the rise in prices. If this happens to your parents, they will be automatically moved to a different supplier, but probably on a different tariff, so it is worth keeping an eye on.
If your parents are eligible (receiving a state pension and/or other benefits), they may qualify for Winter Fuel Payments (£100 – £300 paid automatically in November and December). Not to be confused with the additional Cold Weather Payment – £25 for every 7-day period below or predicted to be 0 degrees Celsius.
The Flu Jab
I probably don’t need to say this but particularly this year, encourage your parents and relatives (in fact everyone) to have the flu jab. And the Covid booster.
Mum’s electric blanket stayed on the bed probably for decades. Suffice to say, we never checked it, and I imagine the odd cup of tea was spilt on it! If your parents own an electric blanket, it’s a good idea to make sure it still works ok, and I suggest getting it PAT tested if it’s old. Some Age UK’s offer a free testing service worth Googling. Finally, check the caps and seals on hot water bottles, too, mainly if they’ve been kicking around the house for a few years.
Not in a Brexit or pandemic sort of way, but worth putting a few things in the cupboards or the freezer for those days when it’s just too miserable to leave the house. I understand there is plenty of loo roll, so no need to panic on that front.
Medication and medical stuff
It may be harder than ever to get a GP appointment (zoom or in-person) this winter, so make sure your parents are set up online to order repeat prescriptions that can be delivered directly to their homes.
There is lots of helpful advice about how to keep warm at home during the winter. From closing the curtains in rooms that aren’t used, to moving a sofa away from a radiator to let the heat circulate. Or how about a lovely throw to pull over your knees on a dreary afternoon whilst watching Midsomer Murders? Throws can make a great Christmas present too.
Avoid the scammers
And while we are on the subject of afternoon telly, it always seemed to be prime time for the scammers to call. Mum fell for it once and felt so stupid afterwards. Fortunately, it wasn’t too serious, but she was lucky. Be sure that your parents and relatives are educated and protected about scam calls/emails/letters and drum home to them; if they’re unsure, to just say no. There’s no shame; scammers are so sophisticated these days.
A scraper, some de-icer for sure and a phone charger is always handy. It’s also worth checking that any roadside assistance is up to date, although it is easy to join or renew on the spot if something happens.
Keeping paths and driveways clear
Falls in and around the home account for millions ending up in hospitals every year, and many are avoidable. Age Space shares some great tips on how to help elderly relatives avoid falls in the home.
We love that in some European countries, it is the law that neighbours should ensure paths and drives of elderly neighbours are kept clear of snow as well as their own. It seems a bit of a no brainer, and we should extend this community spirit to include clearing leaves from paths too!
Whether or not we’re in for a very long, hard winter is anyone’s guess. But best to be prepared and dust down some winter entertainment and fun, whether that’s online Scrabble, live streaming theatre and opera, or at the very least a daily walk and a more regular phone call.
The Blue Peter hedgehog always springs to mind at this time of year; well prepared for a long winter snuggled in a lovely cardboard box with extra food. See you on the other side!
On Wednesday, 10th November at 5pm (GMT) on Instagram Live, Annabel of A&G is going to discuss with Annabel (founder of Age Space):
How to keep Mum & Dad independent for longer.
Introducing the wonderful world of home care technology; essentially dispelling the fear of ‘Big Brother’ watching them and showing how it’s a great way to remain living independently.