What is Spread the Warmth
Spread the Warmth is Age Cymru's national campaign to raise public awareness of the health risks that cold weather and a drop in temperature can have on older people.
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. 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 during the winter.
Try not to sit still for more than one hour at a time. Set yourself small targets to get up and move about every hour. You might not think it, but even a little bit of activity can help you to keep warm, safe and well. Moving about generates heat, strengthens bones and muscles and keeps us mobile.
This can be easier said than done. You might well have found that you're not feeling as fit as you did before the coronavirus pandemic started – if so, you're not alone. Lots of us are finding things we used to do less easy.
Spending more time indoors and doing less of the things we enjoy means it can be difficult to keep up the motivation to prepare meals this makes snacking more likely. Try to keep a bit of a routine when it comes to food. Our appetites vary from day to day. Aim for three meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner with plenty of warm drinks and a little bit of what you fancy.
Have you ever noticed, that when you’re hungry you feel cold? That’s because we get energy from food which, our bodies use to help keep us warm. Keep a good supply of your favourite tinned and dry foods, your unperishables – soups, veg, fruit, pasta, rice puddings, just incase you can't get out to the shops – due to illness or bad weather.
Get your winter vaccinations – even if you're fighting fit
This winter, respiratory viruses are expected to be more widespread, as we were less exposed to them during previous winters with the lockdowns. So it's especially important to get your vaccinations this year. A vaccination continues to be the best protection we currently have against flu and covid.
If eligible, you should already have been contacted by your GP surgery and invited to make an appointment for your free flu vaccination. However, this year healthy 50–64-year-olds will not be included in the NHS free vaccination programme, but you can still ask your local chemist for a paid vaccine. There are also vaccines available for pneumococcal and shingles for some people.
Keep your home warm and safe
Contact a registered heating engineer to service your heating system before the onset of winter. It’s also a good idea to contact a chimney sweep to check that vents and chimneys are clean and clear of debris to allow smoke and toxic gases to escape. Check smoke detectors are positioned properly and are working so they will give you an early warning if a fire starts in your home.
Most utility services host a Priority Services Register for vulnerable customers to provide early warnings of disruption to services and to provide specialist advice so ask your supplier how to register for this free service.
Stop the spread of germs
As well as getting vaccinated, there are some other simple measures we can take to reduce the spread of illness – which is especially important this year.
Regularly washing our hands with soap and water is one of the best ways to stop germs spreading. It's a good idea to keep some hand sanitiser alcohol based gel with you when you're out and about, too.
You can also:
- catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue or the fold of your arm
- leave windows ajar to let fresh air circulate during the day or when meeting people indoors
- avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
Wrap up warm
Dressing for the weather can be difficult to judge. Wear layers is the best way to keep warm in winter. If you're heading out, make sure you take some extra layers, hat, scarf, gloves, waterproof coat, even if you don’t need them immediately – the temperature can drop significantly when the sun goes in.
It's a good idea to stock up on cold and sore throat remedies, too. Your pharmacist can give you advice on what might help if you're feeling under the weather.
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 hypothermia. If you suspect yourself, or somebody else, is experiencing 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
Our Spread the Warmth campaign aims to help older people protect their health and live more comfortably and safely at home, during winter, and to stay connected with others and be a part of what's going on in their community.
Working with our local Age Cymru partners across Wales we offer a dedicated and confidential information and advice service and practical services like home visits and toenail cutting. Please contact our Age Cymru Advice line on 0300 303 44 98 to find out which services are available in your area.
How you can get involved in Spread the Warmth
Together, we can help people feel warm, safe and well this winter.
You can get involved and spread the warmth in a number of different ways.
- Make a donation - your donation will help change lives.
- Share our Winter Wrapped up guide / canllaw Yn Gynnes dros y gaeaf - updated version coming soon.