Winter weather can be seriously bad for our health, especially for people aged 65 or older, and people with long term conditions. Being cold can aggravate existing conditions and raise the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. However, there are lots of things you can do to help the person you care for stay well this winter.
Get expert advice
Always seek advice from your pharmacist at the first sign of a cough or a cold before it gets more serious.
Buy over-the-counter medicines
Many over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibuprofen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as colds, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache).
Keep them warm
Keeping warm, both inside and outdoors, over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. The person you care for should:
Keep out the cold at night
Keep their bedroom window closed on winter nights. Breathing cold air can be bad for health as it increases the risk of chest infections.
Get them the right help
Make sure they're receiving all the help they are entitled to. Learn how to make their home more energy efficient and help take advantage of financial schemes to keep up with energy bills. See Keep Warm, Keep Well for details.
Visit Go Energy Shopping, the Ofgem website, to find the best deal for their gas and electricity.
You can also check their heating and cooking appliances are safe and operating properly by contacting a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Joanne Ellis, 54, cares for her 80-year-old mother who lives alone
If you start to feel unwell, even if it's a cough or a cold, don't wait until it gets more serious. Seek advice from your pharmacist.
From keeping your house warm, to protecting yourself from common ailments, find out how to stay healthy this winter on NHS Choices.