1 Keep warm Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F). You may prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer. Keep your bedroom window closed on a winter’s night. Breathing in cold air can increase the risk of chest infections.
2 Get financial support There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills.
3 Look after yourself
- Contact your GP to get your free flu jab if you are aged 65 or over, live in a residential or nursing home, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person. NHS Choices provides information about flu. Visit www.nhs.uk/flu to learn more.
- Don’t delay in getting treatment for minor winter ailments like colds or sore throats. Visit your local pharmacist for advice on treatment before it gets worse so you can recover quicker.
- Layer your clothing whether you are indoors or outside. Wrap a scarf around your mouth to protect your lungs from the cold air.
- Wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside.
- When you’re indoors, try not to sit still for more than an hour or so. Get up, stretch your legs and make yourself a warm drink.
- Have your heating and cooking appliances checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer to make sure they are operating safely.
- Contact your water and power suppliers to see if you can be on the Priority Services Register, a service for older and disabled people.
- For more winter wellness tips visit NHS Choices
4 Check on others Check on older neighbours or relatives to make sure they’re safe and well. Make sure they’re warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don’t need to go out during very cold weather.
If you’re worried about an older person, contact a family member, the local council or ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66
Staying healthy this winter
We’re all likely to feel the chill in winter, but cold weather can lead to very serious health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes or pneumonia, and sometimes the cold weather can even kill – especially if you have a long-term health condition or are 65 or over. There are several things that you can do to help yourself stay healthy in winter.
Get a free flu jab
Contact your GP or pharmacist if you think you, or someone you care for, might qualify for a free flu jab There are four flu leaflets available in England: one genera, one for pregnancy, one about children and one for people with learning disabilities.
Free flu vaccinations are available for those who:
- are aged 65 or older
- are aged two, three or four years old
- are children in school years 1, 2 and 3
- are pregnant
- are aged six months to 64 years old and have a serious medical condition such as chronic heart, lung, neurological, liver or kidney disease or diabetes
- have a weakened immune system due to disease or treatments that suppress the immune system such as chemotherapy
- have had a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
- are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility (not prison or university halls)
- are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
If you are the parent of a child who is over six months old and has a long-term condition listed above, you should also speak to your GP about your child having the flu vaccine. Your child’s condition may get worse if they catch flu.
Visit NHS Choices for more information about flu.
Avoid catching colds or flu
Colds and flu spread very easily. Young children in particular can be at risk of becoming unwell, as their immune systems are still developing. It’s worth following these simple and obvious hygiene measures to reduce the risk of catching and spreading infections.
- Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and encourage visitors and relatives to do the same.
- Throw away used tissues as soon as possible.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and use a hand sanitiser gel when you’re out and about.
- Stock up on over-the-counter cough and cold remedies.
Living a healthy lifestyle
You probably know that keeping yourself as fit and healthy as you can is important all year round, but your lifestyle can make even more of a difference when it comes to keeping well in winter.
Eating regular meals will help keep your energy levels up during winter.
Hot meals and drinks help keep you warm, so eat at least one hot meal a day and have plenty of hot drinks.
Plan your meals and keep your diet as varied as possible. Aim to include your daily five portions of fruit and veg. Remember that tinned and frozen fruit and vegetables count towards your five a day.
Stock up on tinned and frozen foods, so that you don’t have to go out too much when it’s cold or icy.
We all know that exercise is good for your overall health – and it can keep you warm in winter. If you can stay active, even moderate exercise can bring health benefits.
- If possible, try to move around at least once an hour. Remember to speak to your GP before starting any exercise plan.
- Keeping active generates heat and helps keep you warm. When you’re indoors, try not to sit still for more than an hour. Get up and walk around, make yourself a warm drink and spread any chores throughout the day.
- Chair-based exercises and simply moving your arms and legs and wiggling your toes are helpful if walking is difficult.