If you have an existing health condition winter can be a difficult time as we get older. Below are some Plum Care tips to keep healthy and safe throughout the colder months:
Tip 1 – Protect from flu
Flu can be a very serious illness for vulnerable people, including anyone over 65 or those with chronic illnesses. In the UK there were 120 deaths caused by flu last winter The Guardian.
Sneeze or cough into tissues, dispose of them and wash your hands thoroughly.
Flu germs can live for 24 hours so clean surfaces regularly and avoid unnecessary contact with others if you have a cold or the flu.
Get a flu jab; over 65s and people with certain conditions can receive a free flu jab on the NHS. You are also eligible for a free flu jab if you live in a residential home, are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person or if you are a care worker. Plum Care staff obtain annual flu jabs to ensure we are safe to visit vulnerable customers.
Tip 2 – Protect from pneumonia
Pneumonia is a chest infection caused when the air sacs in the lungs become inflamed and filled with fluid. Again, over 65s and those with long term conditions are at higher risk and it is more common in winter. Confusion and weakness, chest pains, coughs and breathlessness, fever and chills may all be signs of pneumonia and needs to be treated urgently. Plum Care staff monitor and report to the manager if they observe any symptoms of concern
Follow Tip 1 to prevent catching a flu as this can increase the risk of contracting pneumonia. Pneumonia can be viral or bacterial.
Tip 3 – Protect from norovirus
Norovirus outbreaks are much more common in winter and can be serious for elderly people and those with weaker immune systems and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches and fever.
If you catch norovirus you must avoid close contact with others to reduce the risk of transmission.
Wash your hands frequently with water and soap to prevent catching viruses and spreading them to others. Anti-bacteria gel does not kill norovirus.
Disinfect surfaces such as door handles, light switches etc.
At Plum Care, all staff are issued with personal protective equipment for safe infection control.
Tip 4 – Avoid hypothermia
Recognise the signs of hypothermia; hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it and is caused by exposure to cold temperatures. It is very dangerous as the body’s heart and organs are unable to work properly, a person will begin to shiver and may become confused and drowsy and unaware that they are even suffering from hypothermia.
If you suspect a person has hypothermia, it’s important to get them warm; turn the heating on, cover them with warm blankets and give them a warm drink to help raise their internal temperature.
Check on friends, family and neighbours; make sure they are warm and well, and have enough food, medication and other essential supplies in case of extreme weather and they are unable to go out.
Plum Care’s carers are also able to check on customers and support individuals to keep them safe at home.
Tip 5 – Avoid falls
If you need to go out in adverse weather conditions, you may be at risk of falls due to ice and snow.
Make sure to dress warmly with lots of layers.
Wear shoes with non-slip soles or warm boots.
Keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan for any severe weather warnings.
Carers at Plum Care are happy to complete shopping or escort you to appointments and other trips to help keep you safe.
Tip 6 – Keep your home warm
For the over 65s or those with existing health conditions, the government advise keeping the home at a temperature of at least 18°C. People with dementia may be unable to recognise that they are cold, making them more susceptible to hypothermia.
If you can’t heat your entire home, heat one room during the day and your bedroom at night, keep doors and windows closed to conserve heat.
Be sure to wear layers of clothes to trap the warm air and dress warmly at night as well.
Eat warm meals and have plenty of hot drinks.
Get boilers checked regularly and make sure that your pipes are insulated; you or a loved one may be eligible to join The Priority Services Register which is a free service for those who are disabled, have a long-term medical condition, are in receipt of a pension or vulnerable. The Priority Services Register provides services such as priority assistance in an emergency if there’s a power cut.
Tip 7- Know when services are open
GPs and pharmacies may close over the Christmas and New Year period, Plum Care provide services 365 days per year including Christmas Day and New Years Day.
Make sure you are aware of their opening hours and have enough medication to cover this period.
Some pharmacies may be able to deliver repeat prescriptions if you or a loved one are unable to collect them yourselves.
It may be useful to find out where your nearest walk-in centre and A+E is in case of any emergencies.
If you or a loved one need a care or support over winter in Bromley, call Plum Care today to discuss your needs.