As the days get colder, it is important to think about ways you can keep well over the winter months.
Cold weather can make some health problems worse and even lead to serious complications. It also means diseases spread more easily as we spend more time indoors.
Keeping warm and well over the winter can help to prevent colds, Covid-19, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.
This is especially important for people who may need a little more support over the winter months due to the effects of the cold weather, such as people who are 65 or older, or those who have an ongoing health condition such as heart or kidney disease, COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, asthma or diabetes.
We know that the cost of living crisis is making it harder for people to stay healthy as things like heating, food and everyday essentials have become more expensive.
The good news is there are lots of ways you can keep well over winter, and lots of support out there to help you do this.
Top tips for staying well
Heat your home to a temperature that’s comfortable for you. If you can, this should be at least 18°C in the rooms that you regularly use, such as your living room and bedroom.
Wearing several layers of clothing will keep you warmer than one thicker layer.
If you are struggling to heat your home, you can visit a number of warm spaces in your area. They include libraries and leisure centres and some offer hot drinks and wifi.
Getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines ahead of winter are two of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and others around you safe. You can get both for free if you are aged 65 and over, are pregnant or have a long-term health condition.
Children can get a flu vaccine if they are aged 2 to 16, or aged 6 months to 17 years old with certain health conditions. It is important to make sure they are also up to date with their MMR, polio and other childhood vaccinations.
If you are aged 70 to 79, or aged 50 or above and have a weakened immune system, you can get a free shingles vaccination from your GP. The shingles vaccine is now also being offered to people turning 65 on or after 1 September 2023.
Check your medicine cabinet
Make sure you have enough prescription medicines. Stock up early as your pharmacy or GP practice may be closed for the holidays.
Make sure the medication that you do have is still in date.
Stock up on essential over-the-counter medications for common winter illnesses like coughs, colds, sore throats and general aches and pains. Ask your pharmacist for advice.
Try to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting down during the day and keep active. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it’s something you enjoy and keeps you moving.
Eating a healthy balanced diet can help you to feel your best and keep your energy levels up.
Wear shoes with good grip when you go outside to avoid slips and falls on slippery or icy surfaces.
Keep in touch with your friends, neighbours and family.
Speak to someone if you’re feeling under the weather, and don’t be afraid to ask if you or they need any help
Cost of living support
From help with sorting your finances and making sure you have access to benefits, emergency money, and low-cost loans, to linking you with local food banks and mental health support, get support from your local authority.
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