Older people have a thinner layer of fat under the skin which makes them more susceptible to the cold. Medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, can also impact how the body retains heat as blood circulation is impacted.
dd in low incomes and energy-wasting houses along with soaring energy bills. They need all the tips they can get to see them through winter. But for their health’s sake they should not skimp and there are supports out there. Here is just some of what they should know.
The advice from the HSE to older people at home, those with medical conditions or long-term illness, is to ensure they have at least one hot meal a day. Have hot drinks throughout the day and one before bed time. Try to keep stocked up on basic food for days when the weather is bad. Check out meals-on-wheels if it is in your area.
The advice is to wear thermal underwear during the winter. Opt for several layers of light clothes instead of one thick layer. Go for clothes made from wool, cotton or fleecy synthetic fibres. And in very cold weather sleep with warm layered bedding and pyjamas or night dress. Put on bed socks and a night cap, and keep a flask with a hot drink by the bed.
During the day walk around the house regularly and if there is difficulty with walking, wiggle your toes and fingers while sitting. If you are active during the day the living room should be kept at 21 degrees centigrade and 24 degrees if inactive.
Opt for heavy well-fitted curtains. Open them during the day to let in natural daylight and heat but close them in the evening. Make it a point to close internal doors. A flask is a cheap investment and will provide hot drinks during the day without having to use electricity and boil the kettle every time.
Avail of the flu injection which will be on offer from early next month and keep up to date with Covid-19 boosters.
Reduce heat loss
Think of where you might be losing heat and cheap ways of reducing this. It’s worth getting old windows looked at to fix the seals. Age Action has a free care and repair service. Look for draft excluders for the bottom of doors.
Check out radiator reflector foil bought in hardware shops to stop heat being lost to the wall. It is also advised to bleed your radiators before winter to make them work efficiently.
Check if you are blocking heat by having some furniture or couch in front of the heater. Make sure you are using low-energy lightbulbs. Buy heaters controlled by a thermostat as they use energy more efficiently. Turning it down saves money.
Visit the library or museum
If you want to cut down on the day-time home heating then check out libraries which are always warm and cosy.
The books and the newspapers are free, plus no charge to use the internet. People who live in the city have the advantage of a choice of museums, many of which have free entry also.
Make sure you are availing of all extra benefits and discounts if you are eligible such as electricity, gas and fuel allowances. You could be due the household benefits package which is not means tested.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland provides free home energy upgrades to homeowners on low incomes so you could get improvements such as draught-proofing at no cost.
For those who do not qualify there is the Better Energy Homes scheme which provides grants for works like wall insulation. There is the Housing Aid for Older Person’s scheme provided by local authorities which gives grants for a range of works including structural repairs or improvements. More information is available from the Citizens Information at 081807 4000, Age Action at (01) 475 69 89 or email [email protected]
Contact your electricity or gas supplier and tell them if you have special requirements, including home medical equipment that needs power. They will not disconnect during winter.