Remember the Elderly Residents of Southend as Temperatures Drop Hayley Reeve November 3, 2017 Local News, Southend It’s starting to get chilly outside! That means higher heating bills and extra layers of clothing. Do you know if your elderly family members are warm and safe as the weather changes? It’s important to keep warm and well in the winter months. Cold temperatures bring with them the risk of raised blood pressure leading to flu, a heart attack or even a stroke. According to official figures, in the last four years, almost 120,000 people in England and Wales have died of conditions associated to cold weather. Temperatures most suitable for human beings are between 15-25 degrees Celsius. The ideal living temperature is around 20-21 degrees Celsius, dropping to 18 degrees Celsius at night whilst sleeping. The average body temperature is 37 degrees Celsius. Hypothermia is caused when a person’s body temperature drops below 35 degrees Celsius. Being this cold can lead to serious health problems like heart attacks, liver damage or worse. For people of an older age, even a mild drop in temperature reduces the body temperature. When exposed to prolonged cold temperatures, the risk of hypothermia can be particularly high. Unfortunately, when a person starts getting too cold, he or she may not be fully aware of it. The risk increases for elderly persons living alone. They may have difficulty heating their home and feeding and clothing themselves. They are also at risk of falling at home, remaining on a cold floor for long time until discovered, which could also result in severe hypothermia. HOW THE COLD WEATHER AFFECTS THE ELDERLY Cold weather is felt less by elderly people. Elderly people tend to dress inappropriately for the cold weather Elderly people tend to heat their home less in order to save money. Elderly people have less ability to regulate their body temperature. Elderly people that are ill are more vulnerable to cold temperatures. Elderly people that are undernourished are more vulnerable to cold temperatures. When the weather is cold, elderly people tend to drink less and suffer dehydration. The Guardian newspaper reported last year, that one older person dies every seven minutes during the winter months. The director of Age UK, Caroline Abrahams, argues that the real issue isn’t so much the cold weather, but rather those on the poverty line being unable to afford to heat their homes properly. HOW TO PROTECT THE ELDERLY FROM COLD TEMPERATURES Avoid any unnecessary exposure to extreme cold temperatures. Follow weather forecasts and plan their trips out accordingly. Try to maintain a room temperature of 20-24 degrees Celsius. Ensure that they exercise regularly to increase blood flow. Ensure that they eat and drink regularly to stay healthy. Warm food and drinks will help preserve body heat. Ensure that they are wearing warm clothing, with several layers to avoid heat loss. Ensure that when they do leave the house, that they wear a coat, a hat, a scarf and gloves. Keep them covered with a blanket at night, wearing warm bed clothes, including socks. If the elderly person is living alone then try to ensure that they are visited by a friend, family member or neighbour every day. If you or any of your family members, elderly or otherwise, are struggling to keep your home warm in extreme cold temperatures due to financial hardship then Essex Maintenance Heating Services offer the following advice: Always close off rooms that are not being used. Place rolled-up blankets or towels on the floor of any doorways to block drafts. Make sure all windows are firmly closed and properly sealed to avoid drafts. If you, or an elderly relative are suffering severe financial hardship and struggling to pay for heating expenses, help is available! Visit the Citizens Advice website for more information on Winter Fuel Payments, Cold Weather Payments and the Warm Home Discount Scheme.