January has arrived, bringing with it low temperatures and icy weather. Some health problems, such as respiratory conditions and arthritis, are triggered or worsened by cold weather – with older people and those with chronic health problems being more at risk.
The reason that older people are more likely to suffer in winter is because as we age, our bodies react differently to the cold, leading to a greater chance of having a heart attack, stroke, breathing difficulties or pneumonia.
Fiona Lemmens, a local GP and Chair of Liverpool Clinical Commission Group (CCG), said: “During the winter period, we do see a rise in people suffering from respiratory conditions, particularly amongst older people and those with long-term conditions or chronic health problems, which the cold weather can easily exacerbate.
“That’s why we advise these patients that if you feel your condition is worsening, you should make an appointment with your GP as soon as you can. Don’t wait until it gets more serious.”
“In addition, we also see an increase in injuries sustained by those who have slipped or tripped due to adverse weather, so we’d also encourage people to take extra care during the very cold weather, ensuring that any prescriptions are up to date, and that elderly loved ones and neighbours are well looked after by regularly checking in on them.”
To help you and your family keep well this winter, we have pulled together some helpful tips and tricks.
Ways you can help yourself
Some tips on how you can rid those common coughs and colds and keep on top of any respiratory conditions like asthma:
• Find out if you can get the flu jab free on the NHS. Here is a handy guide as to why you should get the flu jab.
• If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s a cough or cold, don’t wait until it gets worse. Seek advice from your pharmacist, local NHS walk in centre or GP out of hours appointment.
• Make sure you have stocked up on your repeat prescriptions or medication during weekends and over the bank holidays.
• For tips on how you can improve your mental health visit our handy tips guide.
• There is also an app that people can download and use to improve their mental health, if there’s no-one in your life you feel you can approach, try Woebot. Woebot is a chatbot that can help you think through situations with step-by-step guidance so you can learn about yourself with intelligent mood tracking and it provides 100+ evidence-based lessons, exercises, and stories from their clinical team. We’ve tried it and think it’s worth a try. Try Woebot here.
• For those who prefer to talk to someone for advice and support Mind or Samaritans are also available.
• Keep social over the winter period here are some groups that you can get involved with.
• For amazing tasting food on a thrifty budget visit our website for some healthy, tasty recipes.
Ways you can help others
• Check up on older neighbours and relatives, and those with heart or respiratory (breathing) problems.
• Make sure they’re safe and well and are warm enough, especially at night.
• Check that they have stocks of food and medicines so they don’t need to go out during very cold weather.
• If you’re worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact your local council or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 678 1174 (8.00am-7.00pm every day).
Keep Warm, Keep Well
• If you are 65 or over, not very mobile, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease, heat your home to at least 18C (65F)
• Keep your bedroom at 18C all night if you can – and keep the bedroom window closed, during the day you may prefer your living room to be slightly warmer than 18C
• The Met Office provides weather forecasts on radio and TV, so listen in to these bulletins regularly to keep up to date with the weather. Severe weather warnings are also issued on the Met Office website.
• Avoid slips trips and falls by wearing suitable footwear.