Preparing for and coping with winter
Top tips for Staying well during the winter
Keep your home warm and energy efficient
Cold homes can make conditions such as rheumatoid disease and arthritis worse than usual. Cold homes also increase the level of minor illnesses such as colds and flu.
If you're not very mobile, are 65 or over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease, then you should try to heat your home to at least 18°C.
There is a lot of independent energy advice and financial help available both locally and nationally.
Switching to gas central heating can save households up to £350 each year off annual fuel bill. If you haven’t already got a central heating system in your home, then you might be able to get one installed at no cost from the Staffordshire Warmer Homes initiative.
If you would like to apply or find out more about the scheme you can see the website or phone 0333 202 4481.
You may qualify for help with heating costs
It’s always worth checking if you are getting what you are eligible for. You can use the free online Entitled To benefits calculator to find out what benefits you can claim.
If you are a UK resident living at home and are 65 or older, you should be getting your winter fuel payment. You could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a winter fuel payment. You usually do not need to claim Winter Fuel Payment. You should get it automatically if you’re eligible.
You might also be eligible for a cold weather payment if the weather stays below freezing for 7 or more days. Like the winter fuel payment, you should get it automatically if you are eligible.
There is also a lot of organisations who can provide independent energy advice about keeping warm and available grants.
Get your flu jab
Flu affects people in different ways. If you are healthy you will usually shake it off within a week, but flu can be a major killer of vulnerable people.
Flu vaccination is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at most at risk from the effects of flu. This is to protect them from catching flu and developing serious complications. Adults at high risk from flu are also most at risk from COVID-19 and the free vaccine is more important than ever, to help protect the nation from a double threat this winter.
The injected flu vaccine is also offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk. You can get your NHS flu vaccine at:
- your GP surgery
- a local pharmacy offering the service
Carers are eligible for a free flu jab too
If you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person you should be offered a free flu jab. You should also be offered one if you're receiving Carer's Allowance. Ask your GP surgery or local pharmacist about having a flu vaccine along with the person you care for. You can also read more about the flu vaccine for carers on the Carers UK website.
Keeping your home warm, efficiently and safely
Heating your home to at least 18°C is particularly important if you have reduced mobility, are 65 and over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease - having room temperatures slightly over 18C could be good for your health
- Do not leave your bedroom window open when it’s cold. Breathing in cold air lowers body temperature and raises the risk of chest infections, heart attacks and strokes.
- Use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm in bed – but do not use both at the same time!
- Keep the warmth in your home in by closing the curtains at dusk to help keep heat in.
Look after yourself
It's not unusual to feel a bit blue in the winter months. To help keep your mood lifted open your blinds or curtains as soon as you get up to let more sunlight into your home, and get outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible.
- Have at least 1 hot meal a day. Eating regularly helps keep you warm
- Have hot drinks regularly, have one before bed and keep one in a flask by your bedside
- keep your cupboards stocked with some basics just in case you can't get out to the shops
If you need help with accessing food this winter there are many voluntary organisations that can help.
Normally, our bodies create vitamin D from sunlight and we need it for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. However, during the winter months the sun isn’t strong enough for our bodies to make vitamin D, and it’s difficult to get the amount we need from our diet. You might want to speak to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement for a little boost over winter.
Try to keep active
If you find you feel the cold more than you used to, that's totally normal. From about the age of 55, we lose around 1% of our muscle mass every year. It doesn't sound a lot, but muscle is what keeps us warm. Keeping active generates heat to help keep your body, hands and feet warm.
Try not to sit still for more than one hour at a time. If walking is difficult, you can do chair-based exercises. Even simply moving your arms and legs and wiggling your toes will get your circulation going. Try searching for a fitness app using our trusted health and wellbeing app finder.
There are also a lot of great sources of advice on staying well during the winter:
Stay connected: Find out what is available in your local area
If you are looking for social activities, our directory website Staffordshire Connects can help you find groups and activities.
This includes activities like:
Try to connect with and check on frail or older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses, to make sure they are safe, warm and well.
Get financial help
You can find organisations offering advice and help with paying energy bills, grants and advice on our Staffordshire Connects local directory website.
Daily living equipment and technology
Take a look at our ‘interactive house’ to find out what equipment could help you manage with everyday tasks and stay independent.
#DoingOurBit – What one thing can you do?
Older neighbours, friends and relatives can be more vulnerable in the winter months and may need a little extra help. As family, friends and neighbours we can help older people keep warm and safe during winter.
Regular checking in to make sure they're safe and well, have enough food and are warm will make all the difference.