Tips for the winter from Independent Age
We're working with older people's charity, Independent Age, to help you stay well through the winter months.
In this resource, we outline the key points from their guide, Winterwise, giving helpful advice and information on:
Winterwise is available in a number of formats including an accessible audio version on the Independent Age website.
Managing your costs
As the cost of living continues to change, you might want to try to control how much energy you use, or estimate the costs.
The oven and electric hob use the most energy, so you might want to be careful about how you use them. A slow cooker uses the least energy to cook a warm meal, so think about using it more than the
hob. Don’t be put off using your kettle to make warm drinks, just avoid overfilling it. A lightbulb uses the least energy, and costs less than a penny an hour to run.
Keeping yourself warm
Check the thermostat. Being cold isn’t just uncomfortable – it can also be very bad for your health. Low temperatures increase the risk of flu, as well as a heart attack, a stroke or hypothermia. Heat your home to at least 18°C (64°F) during the day and night. Turn up your thermostat if you feel cold.
Check your boiler. Get your boiler serviced every year. It’s best to do this ahead of winter, to make sure it doesn’t break down when you need it most.
Keep warm at night. A hot water bottle or electric blanket can warm up your bed. Never use both together, as this can be dangerous. Layering clothes and blankets will keep you warmer, because it traps air between the layers. If you are using an electric blanket, check whether you can keep your blanket on all night or should switch it off before you get into bed.
Slips and falls
Being careful in your home. It’s important to make sure your home is safe, especially if you are doing more exercise and activities in it during winter:
- Use a non-slip bathmat.
- Mop up spills immediately.
- Have a night-light in the bedroom or bedside light or torch by your bed in case you need to get up in the night.
- Remove trailing leads from plugs.
- Keep stairs clear from clutter and well lit.
- Don’t overload electrical sockets.
Being careful outside. If you must go out when it’s icy, wear shoes with good grip and a warm lining, and put on thick socks. Keep grit and/or salt to put on your path. Check if your council can give it to you for free, or you can buy it from a DIY store. Some councils provide it for free in on-street grit boxes.
Scams are crimes. Criminals trick people into giving away money and personal information. These tricks can be complex and take a long time, or can be as instant as a text message or phone call. Scammers take advantage of times of uncertainty.
There are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe:
- Be aware of where any benefits or financial help is coming from. A local authority would never contact you to get your bank details.
- Be wary of all cold-callers and ‘too good to be true’ deals. If you’re unsure about whether something is a scam, call the organisation directly.
- Try to stay calm. We are all concerned about money because of the cost-of-living crisis. Scammers exploit this uncertainty and will try to pressure you into making snap decisions. Remember, any legitimate organisation won’t put time pressures on you.
Mental health and wellbeing
As well as exercising and eating well, staying connected with others can help to improve your mental health. Stay in touch with friends, family, neighbours, clubs and your community by phone or meeting up. It can be useful to keep a list of these phone numbers to remind you to call, or use a calendar to remind you of important events and reasons to reach out. If you’re able to volunteer, giving back to our communities is a great way to feel connected.
If you feel yourself being anxious or worrying a lot, try to focus on things in your control. Limit how much news you watch or listen to. Take time to chat about how you’re feeling with people you trust. If you feel like you’re panicking, try to take deep breaths.
Your local library is a warm place not just for reading but for using computers and finding out what’s going on. There are often reading groups, talks, classes and it’s a great place to go.
You might be worried about having to cook food this winter, but it’s important that you eat at least one hot meal a day to help keep you warm and healthy. It’s also a good idea to have plenty of variety in your diet. This helps you get all the nutrients you need and maintain a healthy weight.
Stay hydrated – we need about 6-8 drinks a day to stay well hydrated. This reduces infections and improves concentration, energy and mood. If you drink alcohol, it is recommended to not have more than 14 units a week (one unit is a half pint or a small glass of wine). Try to spread this out and have alcohol-free days. Alcohol does dehydrate you so, if you can, have water, juice or a soft drink too.
If you’re having trouble affording food, you could contact your local food bank. They can supply emergency food and support. The Trussell Trust has more information on where you can find a food bank. You can also find your nearest food bank using the Independent Food Aid Network’s online map.