blog
24th November 2021

Look after yourself this winter

There’s no denying it, winter is almost upon us. During the months that lie ahead, it’s important that we look after ourselves, our loved ones and also those in our local community if we can.

The winter weather will mean many of us will be spending more time indoors, using our tablets, computers, mobiles and watching television. But we’re all in this together! So to help, we’ve put together some handy tips on how to stay healthy this winter, including how to keep warm, what vaccinations you may be entitled to so that you can keep safe and how to look after your eyes.

Who is at risk?

Cold weather and feeling cold increases pressure on our heart and circulation. This can increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks and hypothermia.

You are more at risk of the cold during the winter if:

  • You are 65 or older.
  • You have a long-term health condition.
  • You have a disability.
  • You have a mental health condition.
  • You are on low income.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You are a baby or a child under the age of five.

Winter vaccines

Depending on your risk, you may be offered some or all the vaccinations on the NHS. Contact your GP surgery for more information if you are unsure.
If you are over 50, you will be or will have already been offered a COVID-19 booster vaccination. If you haven’t had any COVID-19 vaccinations and would now like one, contact your GP surgery, visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or contact the call centre at 119.

Flu vaccine

A free annual flu vaccination is given if:

  • You are over the age of 50.
  • You are a carer.
  • You live with someone who has an impaired immune system.
  • You have a serious long-term condition.

If you do not fall into any of the above categories, you can still have the flu vaccination which costs approximately £8 – £15 depending on which pharmacy you go to.

Pneumococcal vaccine

This will help prevent pneumonia and is usually a one-off vaccine.

You qualify for it if:

  • You are 65 or over.
  • You have a health condition that increases your chance of getting pneumonia and are aged between 2-64.
  • Your occupation puts you at risk.

Shingles vaccine

This is a one-off vaccine given to people aged 70-79.

Keep active

Move around and exercise as much as you are able, as this will help you to stay warm. It will also help with your heart and circulation. If sitting for long periods, try to move around every hour, no matter how little the activity.

Keeping warm

This is a big worry for many people and even more so now the fuel prices have increased. Remember that you may be entitled to financial help towards heating your home. Available grants are the winter fuel payment and the cold weather payment. Here are few more tips to keep warm at home:

  • Have at least one hot meal a day. Eating regularly helps to keep you warm.
  • Have regular hot drinks.
  • If you are 65 or over, or have a health condition, you should heat your home to at least 18C. Your bedroom should also be kept at 18C during the night and close your window.
  • Close your curtains at dusk and keep all doors closed.
  • Use a hot water bottle or electric blanket in bed, but not at the same time.
  • Wear plenty of layers rather than one thick piece of clothing. This will keep you warmer.
  • Keep your hands and feet warm, with thermal or woollen socks, gloves and hat when going out.
  • Wear socks and slippers indoors.

Keeping safe from germs

Due to the pandemic, we have all got into good habits with our hand hygiene over the last couple of years. Don’t let this slip. Make sure you continue washing your hands regularly with soap and water, as this is going to help reduce bacterial and viral infections. Consider wearing a mask in crowded places and use antibacterial gel when you are out, as this will also help to reduce spreading and catching infections.

Prepare for bad weather or feeling unwell

It’s a good idea to stock your cupboards with essentials and foods, such as soups. Having a supply of mild pain medication, anti-inflammatories and cold remedies is also a good idea in case the weather gets bad or you don’t feel well enough to go out.

Consider ordering and having your repeat prescriptions delivered to you by your pharmacy.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and neighbours if you need it. They will be more than happy to help if they can. On the other hand, check on elderly relatives and neighbours if you can, to see if you can help them in any way.

Dry eyes

When the weather is cold and windy, and the central heating is on, this can cause our eyes to become dry. You may also be staying indoors more, watching television, tablets or mobiles. To help with your eyes feeling dry, try to be conscious of blinking more regularly, as it has been proven that we blink less when looking at a screen. Don’t forget the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

And remember to make sure you have enough artificial dry eye drops at home.

Helpful contact numbers

If you have any concerns about your eyes and need support, our friendly helpline team are on hand to help on 01233 64 81 70. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.00pm, or you can email helpline@glaucoma.uk
Alternatively, you may wish to contact the following services:

  • RNIB – Sight loss charity: call 03031 23 99 99.
  • NHS health concern line: call 111.
  • Age UK advice line: call 08006 78 16 02 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk
  • MIND (Mental health charity): call 03001 23 33 93 or email: info@mind.org.uk

Some of the information sourced for this article came from information on the NHS and Age UK websites. For further information, visit www.nhs.uk/live-well and www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/keep-well-this-winter/stay-healthy-in-winter/

 

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