As we move forward into the second official winter month, there are many uncertainties as to what January is going to look like for many families along with the many challenges we are facing to ensure our older loved ones are kept safe and well.
Jackie Gillen, owner and director of Radfield Home Care Wakefield & Dewsbury has kindly shared some insightful words of wisdom on this topic, who previous to launching Radfield in Ossett, Wakefield, dedicated much of her career to the housing and social care sector, supporting vulnerable people of all ages.
Q: As many families aren’t going to be able to spend quality time with everyone they love this winter, how do you think this will affect older people living alone?
Winter and the festive period can be a difficult time of year for many anyway – never mind the impact that Covid-19 is having on society. It might trigger memories of happier times, that may bring greater sadness and loneliness.
Loneliness isn’t an inevitable part of aging, however bereavement, illness, reducing mobility can all be triggers for becoming more isolated.
Furthermore, we are heading into the months with poorer weather conditions, which has an impact on people being able to get out and about, and now with Covid-19 and risks associated with mixing with other households, times are very challenging.
So it all sounds quite depressing, but it’s really important that we try and focus on the positive aspects.
Covid 19 Guidelines in the UK were revised for Christmas, so families could get together and form a christmas bubble on Christmas Day. This was good news for most families, and brought some positive light to our Christmases, being able to have a relatively normal and enjoyable festive time.
However, not everyone was able to form a christmas bubble, or may have chosen not to due to increased risk of infection, so without a doubt it is likely to have increased loneliness and isolation for older people living alone, which can lead to physical and mental health issues.
Q: What reassurance and tips are you able to share with families to help their older loved ones make this winter as safe and enjoyable as possible?
The key thing to remember is that the situation that we are all facing together isn’t forever, thankfully. Potentially it is only ever going to impact one Christmas. It is a temporary situation which many of us find ourselves in, and whilst not ideal, it is worth making certain sacrifices for the long run, to beat Covid.
We all need to try and focus on the positives, and try to make the best of it. Here are a few tips:
- Communication – It’s so important to stay in touch with your loved ones. Whether it is digital communication or a more traditional phone call, they are all safe ways to communicate and with all the apps available like Zoom and FaceTime, they can be a lot of fun.
- Shopping – ensure you are offering or organising the daily or weekly shop for you older relatives and why not surprise them by buying in a few added treats they’re not expecting.
- Plan a long awaited get together – Why not start planning a family get together in the Spring or Summer, when it hopefully will be safer to do so. Involve your older loves in the planning of this – set a date and a venue. It gives everyone, especially those that have missed out on a Christmas with loved ones, a get together to look forward to.
It is important however, that you seek support if you are worried about an older relative. AgeUK offers advice and a friendship service to combat isolation and loneliness. Or, if your older loved one requires more care and support, Radfield Home Care can provide all types of care and support services, from companionship, to help with personal care and Radfield is there for you 365 days of the year. We’re only a phone call away.
For more information on the support services AgeUK can provide, visit the website:
Q: With spending more time at home, and what looks to be a harsh winter, can you provide some guidance on how to stay warm and manage the cost of keeping your house warm and cosy?
There are many helpful and useful tips to stay warm and cosy this winter. Here are just a few:
- Regular and daily exercise will help keep older people warm and well over the winter; if it’s icy outside then encourage loved ones to exercise / move around indoors, or introduce some chair exercises. The NHS provide a useful exercise plan. Take a look using the link below.
- Wearing lots of layers of clothing will keep older and less mobile loved ones warmer – vests, thermals for example.
- A thermos flask by your side is a good way of having warm drinks throughout the day. It will encourage older ones to drink more regularly, staying hydrated and warm throughout the long winter days. It will also save trips to the kitchen
- A hot water bottle, or a back/hand warmer which you put in the microwave is useful to have, and if your loved ones haven’t got one, then maybe it could be a useful gift.
- Having a snuggly blanket or fleece when sitting to reduce drafts and cold. Many shops now stock fleece blankets in all sizes and colours. Again maybe a useful gift.
- Reduce drafts by using draft excluders and keep doors closed when inside.
- Put radiators on in rooms you use and switch them off in rooms that aren’t used to reduce costs.
- Shop around for an energy provider, staying loyal to the same one will likely mean costs are higher.
- Local Authorities have funding to provide support, help and advice to older people on how to stay warm and healthy, such as Wakefield Council has created LEAP (Local Energy Advice Partnership) to help Wakefield district residents save money and stay warm and healthy this winter. It is a FREE service 0800 060 7567.
The government has also announced a £2 billion funding to improve energy efficiency of homes across England. Fore more information visit:
Q: Because older people are more likely to live on their own, they can be targets for fraudsters, especially over the festive period. What advice are you able to share to ensure older people and their families stay safe online this winter?
Age UK reports that an astonishing 43% of older people – almost five million people aged 65 and over – believe they have been targeted by scammers. Those with dementia are at particular risk.
Scams can be committed over the phone, through the post, on the internet or face-to-face, or often on the doorstep and because older people are more likely to live on their own, and are often lonely, they become targets for fraudsters.
Below are 10 top tips to help older people stay safe from fraudsters:
- ALWAYS REMEMBER: IF SOMETHING SEEMS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT USUALLY IS.
- Never respond to any emails, text messages, letters or social media messages that look suspicious, or that have bad spelling or grammar.
- Remember, a genuine bank will never contact you out of the blue asking for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account. If you receive a message like this, ignore it!
- If someone you have never met before asks you for money, that should be a red flag. Do not give them any money!
- Always question uninvited approaches, in case it’s a scam. This applies whether the contact is on the doorstep, over the phone, by post or online. Instead, contact the company directly yourself using a known email or phone number.
- If you are even a tiny bit suspicious, check with someone else before responding to the communication – a trusted relative, friend or neighbour.
- Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected text or email.
- Make sure you use strong passwords on all your online accounts, and change them often.
- Always have anti-virus software and a firewall installed on your computer, and update all software as soon as new versions become available.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel at all wary or suspicious, you’re probably right!
For more information and advice on this topic, click on the link below:
If you would like to find out more about the care services Radfield Home Care provides and the job opportunities, you can visit www.radfieldhomecare.co.uk/ or contact your local office.