With colder weather rolling in, local home care provider MyLife Cambridge is urging members of the local community to be good samaritans this winter and look out for elderly neighbours.
Christmas is meant to be a joyful time of year, but it can also be a difficult time for older people – especially those who live alone and may not have reliable social, financial or emotional support in place.
MyLife Cambridge manager, Karen Nash, said: “Last year there were an estimated 50,000 deaths in England and Wales, the highest recorded since the winter of 1975 to 1976, according to the Office for National Statistics.
“Many winter-related deaths could be easily prevented but it can be difficult for people who are in later life, or otherwise vulnerable, to stay healthy in the winter months.”
When temperatures drop below 8°C, people over the age of 65 are at an increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, as well as depression and bodily injury.
Here are MyLife’s top 10 tips to help vulnerable people in the community this winter:
Introduce yourself: If you’re not already acquainted with your elderly neighbours, introduce yourself politely. Share your mobile number and ask for their emergency contacts.
Weather-proof the house: If they give you permission to enter their home, ensure that it can be heated to at least 18°C. Check for draughty windows and doors. Make sure boilers and heaters have been serviced and are never covered or too close to other objects.
Grit the pavement: Clear the snow and lay salt or grit to prevent ice accumulating on steps and pathways.
Help with shopping: If you go to the supermarket, offer to pick up a few bits for your neighbour. Help them keep the cupboards stocked with basics such as bread and toilet roll, and non-perishables like baked beans.
Tune into to the weather forecast: In extreme weather think of your neighbour. Visit often to make sure they are keeping warm.
Dress them warmly: Make sure they dress in warm layers and have a blanket to wrap up in. Suggest they wear a hat and scarf, even indoors, to keep their blood flowing.
Get them moving: Encourage them to get up and walk around the house every half hour to keep themselves active. Exercise aids circulation, raises heartrate, and improves the immune system.
Take them out: If you’ve built up a up a good relationship, perhaps offer a lift to appointments or to see friends. Take them to the shopping centre, library, hairdressers or church. Getting out and about will boost their spirits.
Bring round a hot meal: Take round an extra plate of your Christmas dinners or bake a frozen casserole they easily can heat in the microwave. If they can’t get around easily, you could make up a flask of tea or soup.
Stay for a cuppa: When you visit, you may be the only person your neighbour has spoken to for days. Put the kettle on and stay for a chat – this could mean the world to them.
Karen added: “Our dedicated care workers - along with many others across the UK - brave the snow, ice and freezing temperatures to ensure vulnerable people are kept warm, comfortable and safe – even on Christmas day. While you’re tucking into your Christmas turkey, take the time to consider your elderly neighbour who may be feeling cold and lonely and consider making an extra effort to help out.”