Keeping older people warm in winter

wintermittensmugWith autumn here and winter creeping ever so closer, there is certainly a nip in the air. With this weather comes certain obstacles, especially for elderly people. As a younger person, there are plenty of things you can do to make these chilly seasons a lot more enjoyable for them.

Avoiding Slips and Falls

The first thing you can do to help your elderly friend or relative is to find a good, sturdy walking stick or mobility aid. This will not only reduce the strain on the legs and the knees, but it will also provide that extra bit of stability for a whole host of outdoor activities.

Many people believe it is only the height of the user that determines the walking stick height. But in reality, people come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and proportions. The secret to measuring your walking stick is by following this method:

Walking Stick Measure

Once you have helped them choose the perfect walking stick, make sure you accompany them on a couple of walks as they get used to the conditions. If you notice they are struggling, perhaps invest in a sturdy ferrule to put at the bottom of the stick.

If they have a garden or driveway, make sure it is gritted each week, as the bags can be too heavy for an elderly person to lift. You could also buy them a handrail if they have slippy steps at the front door.

The Right Clothes

Having the correct indoor and outdoor clothing is essential. Make sure they are a wearing at least a couple of layers as this is more effective than just one thick layer. Thick shoes for outside and nice warm slippers for indoors will keep their toes from freezing. Thick socks, gloves, a hat, and a scarf will ensure their face avoids a chill, as well as protection from illnesses.


Try and keep the temperature inside their home above 18 degrees, as being alone in a cold house can cause many problems, including hypothermia. Help out your elderly friend or relative by providing them with a talking thermometer. This will help them keep on top of the temperature in their home when you are not around.

Also, try and organise it so their heating is serviced each year by a professional. This will make sure everything is safe and cost effective to keep their home warm throughout the cold months.

Perhaps treat them to a lovely home cooked meal like a hot bowl of soup or some shepherd’s pie. This will give you peace of mind that you are doing all you can to ensure they are eating enough.

If you need more information on looking after elderly people in cold weather, check out the NHS guide on winter health.

This guest post was provided by Rachel Campbell, a Digital PR Executive for Ability Superstore (

Who Is Your Next Of Kin?

Many people think their NOK is their nearest relative but this is not the case. Read why in my latest blog post

grandparentsI sometimes act as Health and Welfare attorney for people who have no family or solicitor willing to act in this capacity. For those who have lost capacity, I am recorded as their Next of Kin (NOK) with their GP, other health professionals, hospitals and care providers. I enjoy being NOK because it makes a difference to the individual I am supporting. After all, we all need to matter to someone!

So let’s look a bit closer at what NOK means. Health and Social Care, independent consultants like myself, and care providers, often ask people “Who is your next of kin?” The term is used as a kind of shorthand for “Who do I/we communicate with about you?” However, the term has no legal status when you are alive and is unreliable because it does not identify if the person is your closest relative or the person most important to you. In fact, they are often different people.

The term NOK is commonly used and there is an assumption that the person you identify as your NOK has certain rights and duties. As health and social care professionals, we should always consult with the people closest to the person who lacks capacity, to understand the person’s wishes and feelings and to help them make a decision in that person’s best interests. However, the person identified as NOK should not be asked to sign and/or consent to certain interventions unless they have a legal basis for doing so. This is a mistake made in many hospitals nursing and care homes where family members are asked to sign care plans, end of life plans etc and provide consent, which is not legally valid.

The only situations where a NOK is legally valid for signing health and/or social care forms are when the person has a registered Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for Health & Welfare or is a Court appointed Deputy. In the latter’s case, deputyship needs to be for health and welfare decisions although a Deputy for Financial affairs can sign a contract with a care home as it relates to finance. An Enduring Power of Attorney is not valid for health and social care decisions neither is an LPA for Property and finance.

I cannot stress enough, the importance of making a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare as well as for Property & Finance as soon as possible, ideally at, or soon after retirement. So many things can happen to take away our ability to make decisions and it can happen in the blink of an eye when we are least expecting it e.g. a stroke, accident, or brain injury. I always advise people to use a solicitor to make their LPAs. You can get the forms off the internet and do it yourself but you wouldn’t know if you had made a mistake until it was too late and would miss out on valuable legal advice. If you don’t have a solicitor you can find one here Solicitors for the Elderly