With winter fast approaching, the rise in energy bills means many elderly people may struggle to heat their homes adequately in cold weather. So if you want to help out an elderly relative, friend, or neighbour this winter, then there are practical and cost efficient techniques that can be employed to help keep them warm without having the central heating on 24 hours.
Many elderly people leave a sedentary lifestyle, whether for health reasons or due to loneliness. It may sound obvious but actually getting them to move around rather than sitting in a chair all day actually generates body heat. The movement needn't be anything strenuous, just getting up to make a cup of tea every hour, or moving arms and legs when seated will help.
Most people do not realise that its the amount of air you trap that is the insulator, not the thickness of the fabric. Wearing lots of thin layers of clothing rather than a few thick layers will trap more body heat. Thermal base layers and mid layers are fantastic at trapping body heat and are wrongly observed as only being suitable for outdoor adventurers.
Have A Cuppa
Eating a hot meal or sipping a hot drink helps to maintain the bodies core temperature. When this starts to drop then the body automatically goes in to survival mode, constricting blood vessels close to the skin and pulling hot blood closer to the core, protecting vital organs. The first sign of this happening when the extremities, such as fingers and toes, become cold and numb. Using a microwave to heat meals and drinks, rather than using an oven or kettle, saves a lot of energy.
Pre-warming beds before going to sleep is easy to achieve using energy efficient electric blankets. Getting into a cold bed leads to body heat loss that can be hard to build back up when sedentary. Using it in conjunction with a plug-in timer removes the possibility of forgetting to turn it on/off.
Insulating lofts and walls is one of the best home improvements for save energy and retaining heat within a building. There are numerous grants available for people aged 70+ and/or those on certain benefits. It's always worth checking with their energy provider to see what they may be entitled to, as well as contacting Age UK and the Citizens Advice Bureau for further assistance.
Wearing a hat, gloves and sock layers indoors may look daft but it helps to keep heat within the body. If dexterity is needed, then look at getting gloves with their fingertips missing or with a silicon grip print. Slippers with a fleece lining are also a great way to insulate the feet from cold floors when walking around.
Put Your Feet Up
Raising feet on a footstool may look extravagant, but when you are seated, the coldest air will be close to the ground. Wearing a good pair of woollen socks or multiple thinner socks with slippers will help to keep feet toasty.
If heating a whole house is financially onerous, then move them in to one room to live through the colder months. Placing a bed in the lounge means they can concentrate the heating into one area.
If affordable, keeping the central heating on all the time, but on a low level, has been shown to offer the most benefit when heating a property, rather than switching it on high for a few hours a day. In unused rooms, setting the radiator valve to the lowest setting means it only comes on when really needed.
Being generous with cuddles helps to share body heat, but getting a pet such as a cat or small dog to lap sit is equally effective.
Invite Them In
If your elderly relative, friend, or neighbour is struggling keeping warm this winter, then you could always be selfless and invite them over to stay, whether just during the day or overnight. Having a bit of company, a cooked meal, and a warm environment will benefit them considerably.