Winter wellness tips for vulnerable Queenslanders

Winter Wellness 2022

As we unpack our winter woolies and prepare for another cold blast, we share some helpful winter wellness tips from Ozcare’s Head of Aged Care, Lanna Ramsay.

Immunisations are always a good place to start in protecting us against the annual Influenza season and here in Queensland we have already seen high levels of Influenza across the State.  There are other useful strategies though that Queensland families can adopt to ensure our ageing loved ones are kept safe through the cold months.

“While we’re all bracing for a cold winter this year, and staying warm is going to be really important, there is also a lot we can do to protect seniors,” Ms Ramsay said.

“Temperatures are really starting to plummet, especially in the southern areas of Queensland, which makes our older relatives even more susceptible to contracting a cold or flu. Our bodies change as we age which means we lose body heat faster. These changes also make it harder for older people to even know they are cold. That is why it is important to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep them well.”

The following three tips are recommended for winter wellness:

1. Make sure your home is warm

Just being cold can make you sick when you’re an older adult.  In the most extreme cases, hypothermia can develop, which can lead to many health problems such as heart attack and can even cause vital organ damage.

Keep the house warm by keeping windows closed, curtains closed at the end of the day, use of draft stoppers and/or rolled up towels to stop the draft from coming in under the doors.  Installing a heater is a good idea, but make sure it’s kept away from any hazards that may catch fire and close off any doors to rooms not being used.

2. Dress warmly indoors and outdoors

Whether you’re at home or venturing outside, it’s crucial to dress warmly in the winter months as you age.  Wearing loose layers of clothing is a good way to keep warm.  The air between layers of clothing warms us up.

A beanie or hat and scarf trap body heat and prevent it from escaping through your head and neck.  Waterproof jackets are also a good way to combat cold wind.

Even if you’re staying at home for the day, make sure you rug up with socks, slippers and a blanket over your legs whilst resting.  Wear a beanie to bed with long pyjamas and cover yourself with extra blankets when needed.

3. Look after your general health and wellbeing

Both older and younger adults and children can help to protect the most vulnerable in our community by having a flu shot in winter.  Immunisations are readily available through your GP or local Pharmacy.

It is also vitally important to stay away from older adults if you are sick or have any cold or flu like symptoms.  Make a call, instead of dropping in.  Being sick does not mean you have no contact.  Make sure there is plenty of healthy, fresh ingredients for meals, which need to be warm and hearty.

As we age, in can be harder to maintain the body fat that keeps us warm, so eating good food, and enough of it, is important.  While alcohol can be there to enjoy, remember to drink in moderation as too much alcohol can also cause you to lose body heat.

Exercising is highly recommended, however, the same principles of dressing warmly apply if you are venturing outside.  Walking in the warmest parts of the day is a great way to stay fit and healthy.

Ms Ramsay said these were some basic guides for winter wellness but anyone with concerns about the health of their loved ones should reach out to the experts.

“Ozcare offer services to help seniors live their lives well, including a range of home care services,” Mrs Ramsay said.  “Along with our 16 aged care facilities, we support over 10,000 Queenslanders in their homes, including NDIS participants.  Services can include assistance with making meals, showering, shopping and cleaning.”

“In some cases, our home care staff visit every day and this ensures the most vulnerable in our communities are staying well and warm. For families who may not live close by, this provides peace of mind that their loved ones are being looked after in their homes.”