As the cold weather in many parts of the country continues, health professionals from Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust are encouraging people to look out for their elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours.
Living alone can be extremely harmful to people’s health and is associated with depression, sleep problems, and mental illness, and as a result older people and those with long-term health conditions are particularly susceptible to illness and isolation during the winter months when it is harder to get out and about.
Michaela Toms, Head of Nursing in the Community and Wellbeing Network at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“The weather this year has been particularly cold, and older people and those with long term illness are often home alone and often feel isolated which can then lead to ill health. As a result, we’re encouraging people to help the elderly and vulnerable people they know by doing some very simple little things like dropping in and seeing your neighbours once a week. It doesn’t take long and can actually be a valuable way of making a difference and give one a boost and sense of purpose.”
The Trust has also produced some top tips on looking after elderly neighbours:
- Check if the elderly people you know are well, particularly if they don’t seem their usual self or they look unwell
- Ask if you can collect any prescriptions they need or take them to any appointments
- Make sure their home is heated to at least 18 degrees to 21 degrees throughout the winter
- Ensure they are eating well and have a good supply of essential and store cupboard food to keep them going
- Encourage them to get heating and cooking appliances safety checked
- If it snows, clear their path, front steps or doorway areas for them, or better still, encourage them to stay in.
According to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.