Age UK uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our policy. To read more about how we use cookies and how you can control them. Read our Cookie Policy
Skip to content

Winter Health

Published on 13 December 2020 09:40 PM

image3w8pg.png

Every year we publish information during the winter months to assist with health and wellbeing awareness. It important to be reminded of  the things, even sometimes only small, that can help to keep you and the people you care about, warm and well. 

Below is information in relation to the Flu jab and why it's important.

We also share information from Age UK with links to the national charity website.

Please contact us is you need any help

Helpline 0300 666 9860

or email

infoandadvice@ageukcap.org.uk

image3w8pg.png

Flu Vaccine

With coronavirus sticking around, we need to do all we can to protect ourselves and others, to reduce illness, and prevent hospital admissions this autumn and winter.

Flu is a seasonal illness which is usually at its most prevalent from October to March each year.

Flu is much more than a nasty cold. In England, flu caused over 1700 admissions to hospital in people aged 65 and over in 2018-19.

As we age, our immune system weakens meaning our body is less able to fight off illnesses. This happens even if we are fit and healthy.  The best way to protect yourself, and others, against the flu is to get the flu vaccine. Antibiotics and other medication won’t help to prevent you from getting it. There are different flu strains and so each year the vaccine is created to protect against the most prevalent strain. This is why you should get a new vaccine each year.

Don’t believe everything you see or hear – there are a lot of myths around the flu vaccine. Check the facts here in this link www.ageuk.org.uk/flu

Who should get the flu vaccine?

The following groups can get a flu vaccine for free from their GP, Pharmacy, or other healthcare professional. 

  • People aged 50 years or over (as of 1st December, previously 65yrs)
  • People living in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities
  • People who provide care for an older or disabled person
  • People who live in the same household as those on the NHS Shielded Patient List, or immunocompromised individuals
  • People of any age who have certain health conditions such as
  • People with chronic (long-term) respiratory disease
  • People with chronic heart disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, chronic neurological disease
  • People with learning disability
  • People with diabetes
  • People with splenic dysfunction or asplenia
  • People with a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
  • People who are morbidly obese (defined as BMI of 40 and above)
  • Pregnant women
  • Children aged two to eleven (as of 31 August 2020)
  • Some care workers: frontline health and social care workers who work in a registered residential care or nursing home, a voluntary managed hospice provider, a registered domiciliary care provider or are employed through Direct Payments (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets.

The World Health Organisation recommends 75% of people aged 65 and over are vaccinated against the flu.  However last winter in our area this fell short with 73.6 % in Cambridgeshire and 70.1% in Peterborough of people aged 65 having the flu vaccination.

Melanie Wicklen, Chief Executive for Age UK Cambridgeshire and Peterborough:

"Although Covid might feel like the most pressing problem this winter, it’s incredibly important we don’t forget about the dangers of flu. Flu can be a serious health hazard for older people, even if you are otherwise fit and well, and it’s the last thing anyone needs this of all years. We also now know that getting both covid and flu simultaneously poses an even greater risk to someone’s health. It’s vital everyone eligible gets their free flu jab to protect themselves and the people around them.”

image3w8pg.png

Keeping well this winter

Changes to our bodies as we get older mean that cold weather and winter bugs affect us more than they used to.

This winter we will also need to live with coronavirus, which we know can have more of an impact the older we are.

What you can do 

As we age, our immune system becomes weaker and less able to fight off viruses. We lose muscle mass which helps to keep us warm and keep us moving about. And the cold makes health conditions harder to manage, or even effect our hearts and circulation.

The good news is there are lots of things we can do to help keep well in winter.

Changes to our bodies as we get older mean that cold weather and winter bugs affect us more than they used to.

This winter we will also need to live with coronavirus, which we know can have more of an impact the older we are.

What you can do 

As we age, our immune system becomes weaker and less able to fight off viruses. We lose muscle mass which helps to keep us warm and keep us moving about. And the cold makes health conditions harder to manage, or even effect our hearts and circulation.

The good news is there are lots of things we can do to help keep well in winter.

Keep moving

Try not to sit still for more than one hour at a time. You might not think it, but even a little bit of activity can help you to keep strength and mobility.

We have lots of simple home-based exercises you can add to your daily routine. 

If you're not sure where to start, or find it difficult to move more because of a long-term condition, have a look at our being active pages for advice and tips. 

We've looked into the best ways to help people get active as they get older. Take a look at what we found.

Eat well

Spending more time indoors more and doing less of the things we enjoy means it can be difficult to keep up the motivation to prepare meals. Try to keep a bit of a routine and eat what you can.

If you've recently lost weight without meaning to or have a smaller appetite than usual, find out why this might be and what you can do to help. The most important thing is to eat, even if the only thing you fancy is a slice of cake, something is always better than nothing.

Get your free flu jab – even if you're fighting fit

Everyone aged 65 and over, and anyone who cares for a friend or family member, is entitled to a free flu jab from the doctor or pharmacist.

When you get your flu jab check if you're eligible for the pneumo vaccine, which helps protect you from pneumonia, and the Shingles vaccine. 

To protect the most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic, there are additional groups who can get the jab free this year, including personal assistants and people who live with someone who was asked to shield during Spring lockdown.

The vaccine has an agent in which helps to boost your immune system’s response. Even if you’re fit and healthy, it’s a great idea to get the jab to help protect yourself and others.

Read more about flu and why the jab's important

Make sure your home is warm enough

Try to heat your home to a steady and comfortable temperature throughout the day. It's also a good idea to keep your bedroom window closed at night when the weather is coldest and close the curtains at dusk to keep the heat in.

Having trouble heating your home? Get help with heating costs

Wash your hands regularly

This is important now more than ever. It's simple but effective – washing your hands helps stop germs spreading and can help you stay well.

Wrap up well and stay stocked up

Layering's the best way to keep warm in winter. If you're heading out, don’t forget the temperature can drop drastically as the sun goes down so take woollies out with you, even if you don’t need them immediately. It could be a good idea to stock up on cold and sore throat remedies. Your pharmacist can give you advice if you're feeling under the weather about what might help.

Read our top tips for keeping your hands and feet warm

image3w8pg.png

The cold puts more pressure on our hearts and circulatory systems

The cold can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke, as well as hyperthermia. If you suspect yourself, or another, is experience any of these, call 999 immediately, or 112 from a mobile 

Remember, for a Stroke, think FAST

F- is the face drooping on one side?

A – can the person raise both arms and keep them there?

S – is speech slurred?

T – time to call 999 if you spot any one of these signs

For a heart attack, many people experience severe chest pain, but the symptoms can be different for different people. Find out about all the symptoms of a heart attack here

For symptoms of hypothermia and advice on how to help see the NHS website

image3w8pg.png

 

If you're concerned about someone's health or safety, call 111 for health advice, or in an emergency call 999 (112 from a mobile).

Winter Wrapped Up

A guide to keeping warm and well this winter