AD – This is a collaborative post but all thoughts are my own

Where most of us are excited for Autumn and Christmas and the final few months of the year, for some people, it can be a pretty stressful time. For any of us with elderly relatives, friends or neighbors, we’re well aware of the struggles the older generation can face when the temperature drops and the conditions outside change. Not to mention with COVID on top of that!

Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

Before we get into the tips on making sure the elderly in your life are safe and healthy this Winter, I just want to make a point of how you should ALWAYS be looking after yourself too. I fully believe that you can’t look after others to the best of your ability unless you look after yourself too. So make sure you’re focusing on your own health, well-being and self care. Especially during a time of year which can be so stressful for so many reasons.

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So now let’s get into how we can take care of our elderly friends, family and neighbors during Winter and Christmas. We’ll be looking at physical, mental and practical tips:

Tackle loneliness

Loneliness can be such a huge problem. Not just for elderly people of course (I can definitely adhere to that) but for the sake of this post, that’s the group of people we’ll be focusing on. Can you think of anything worse than an elderly friend or relative, sitting in their home, feeling lonely at what should be the happiest time of year?

There are plenty of ways to tackle loneliness. The most obvious is to make sure you visit and NOT just for the necessities. Visit them for the sake of a visit. For a cup of tea and a chat. It could make their entire week. If visiting isn’t an option, pick up the phone.

There are also some fantastic voluntary services available which would be worth looking into in your local area whereby volunteers ring up elderly or vulnerable people just for a check in a chat. This is what I did in the Summer, when COVID was in full swing!

Ensure their houses are safe

Safety is so important, especially in the Winter when health conditions might flare up and the conditions outside might make homes and gardens and bit less safe than usual. But of course safety comes into play all year round. Things like railings are easy to ensure they’re safe and sturdy.

However for the bigger safety equipment, like stair lifts, it’s always worth hiring professionals or someone that knows what they’re talking about to come and take a look to make sure it’s safe. You can check out a range of stairlifts prices here, to start the process in finding the perfect stair lift.

Check appliances are working

Again, something else that you might have to hire a professional for if you’re not able to do so yourself and that’s checking the important appliances like heaters and boilers and ovens are working correctly and safely. No heating in Winter can have a devastating impact on health, so this should absolutely be a priority.

Check in on people regularly

I’ve already mentioned visiting elderly friends, neighbors and relatives for social visits but checking in on them regularly just to ensure they’re okay is another really helpful thing to do this time of year. This could literally be a 2 minute chat in the morning and in the evening. And it’ll make them know someone is thinking of them and cares and also allows them to express any concerns they have that you can tackle during the week.

Access to healthcare

Healthcare is always important (obviouslyyyyy) but in Winter when health conditions can flare up and viruses and illness are more common, making sure they have regular access to healthcare is so important. Especially if they can’t get out and about themselves.

This means writing down important numbers for them to access easily, such as the GP surgery, the pharmacy and emergency contacts, making sure they’re stocked up on medication they need and supply them with medications they might need if they find themselves with a cold or the flu.

If housebound, make sure they have enough food

The final practical point is making sure they have enough food. This is particularly important if they’re housebound, if they have an illness or a injury or if the weather is so bad that they physically wouldn’t be able to make it safely to the shops and back.

If needed, you can also arrange home delivery for them for their weekly groceries.

Make sure you have a back up person if you’re not available

Remember, you need to look after yourself too! If you’re feeling run down or need some time to yourself, you are MORE than entitled to take that. But sometimes it’s not that easy if you have elderly people to take care of. You’re not responsible for everyone’s needs. So if you do need to take time away, if you’re sick or are taking a holiday, then just make sure there are other people available to take over your duties for a few days!

What else would you add to this list if you have elderly relatives or friends to look after?

61 Comments

  1. These are good tips. We can’t forget about our aging aunts and uncles and grandparents. It’s also important to make sure you help provide them with services like a nurse or worker to help them bathe if they can’t do that on their own and find a pharmacy that can deliver meds. Those little things are so important as well.

  2. Great tips, thankfully my grandparents are still mostly able to do things independently. I order their food shopping and do anything they’d need to do online for them and that’s pretty much all the help they need to get by. But it is concerning how many older people will struggle this year, especially with household restrictions etc in place. Loneliness will be an even bigger issue this year I imagine which is so sad x

  3. This is such a lovely and thoughtful post. I’m so very lucky that I’ve been able to see both of my grandmother’s and even help take care of my paternal grandma who had a fall just a couple of months ago. It’s of course so much more concerning during this pandemic, and I love what you shared here x

  4. Ooh, I like the advice to visit them for the sake of a visit. The people around me (myself included) tend to visit our older relatives when the need arises or if there’s a special occasion to meet. I think you made a very good point that we ought to do better and to visit them even if there are no ‘real’ reasons to. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  5. We’ve been getting food for my grandad and I’ve been trying to find things for him to do as he’s so bored on his own 🙁

  6. These are great ways to check in and make sure the elderly in our lives are good for the holidays. Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Really appreciate the tips you shared, especially the first one. It is not easy, especially in this pandemic. But hopefully, we all get to be more thoughtful and look after the well-being of our elderly.

  8. Great post! It is good you prefaced it with taking care of yourself as well. Caretakers of others tend to put their own needs last. They are so busy caring for someone else, they forget to take good care of themselves as well!!! Elderly people tend to be so very lonely when they are isolated from others…especially now with Covid 19. Everything counts…phone calls, dropping off a simple gift…anything to show that someone cares about them.

  9. These are great tips. I believe that we need to check in on our elderly family members and neighbours more than ever this year. With everything going on, this year is throwing more challenges their way. I know that I’ll be putting more effort in this year to check in with older neighbours here.

  10. What a great post! I think this is so important to think about and I’m lucky I live near my Nan and grandad that we can support them during this time if needed. However it breaks my heart to think not everyone has that. I don’t personally have any elderly neighbours but I do try to look out for others as much as I can xx

  11. Great tips, this is definitely something I’m going to keep in mind when it comes to my neighbours. I live in a small village so a number of the residents are elderly and need checking in on! Lovely reminders 💛

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

  12. This is an important topic. It is so easy to get busy and forget to check in with our elderly loved ones. And so often they hate to feel like a burden so they don’t tell us when something is wrong.

  13. This is such a helpful post and could definitely be applied to neighbours as well as relatives. Its surprising how much a conversation with someone that is lonely can change someone’s day for the better. For me, checking their heating is an important one for me because I’d hate to think of someone being cold.

  14. Looking after the elderly is so important during these cooler temperatures- and especially now more than ever! I work at a doctors’ surgery and I love hearing stories from elderly citizens all about their childhood, or their time during the war- fascinating! We need to treasure the older generation. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  15. This is such an important and powerful post! This pandemic has shown how much of an issue we have with the older generation, their care and loniliness. It breaks my heart! Well done you for creating and sharing this!

    Rosie

  16. This is hugely important, this year more than most. I was horrified to learn last week that my Dad’s 94 year old neighbour had a call from her Daughter to say she couldn’t have her over for Christmas as she had invited friends over! She was going to leave her Mum alone on Christmas day!!!! I still can’t quite get my head around it!

    So instead she is coming for a COVID secure dinner with Rob, Dad, the boy and I (we don’t have the girls this year)

    I kept an eye on her all through lockdown as well, making sure she had enough, buying her endless bags of bird food as she loves feeding the birds and just generally making sure she saw a friendly face, even if through a window.

    I just can’t believe people can forget so easily about their family. You can imagine how much I long to spend more time with my Mum so I cannot understand this ‘rejection’

    Let’s hope the winter is a mild one as this is a worry too for the elderly.

    Thank you so much for sharing Jenny x

    1. Oh my goodness Claire, I am horrified. That’s absolutely awful. When my Dad was in hospital over New Year one year, we heard loads of stories from the nurses etc about people who keep their family in the hospital over Christmas so they can go and have fun. Like, can you even imagine?

  17. I think one thing this pandemic has shown is loneliness is an issue! I signed up to call a few elderly people once a week and whilst it isn’t something I talk about a lot, it’s just something that’s so easy to do and is such a wonderful experience x

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