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Look out for the elderly this winter

Elderly imageOlder people, in particular those that live alone, are especially susceptible to winter illnesses, yet it can be sometimes difficult for those at risk to admit that they need help. All too often elderly people end up being treated in hospital for long periods, with symptoms that might not have been so serious and could have been managed effectively at home, if they had only sought help sooner.

As winter weather starts to bite the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups in Birmingham and Solihull are encouraging people to look after their elderly relatives and neighbours.

Dr Richard Mendlesohn, Chief Medical Officer for NHS Birmingham Cross City Clinical Commissioning Group said: ‘It’s not always easy to take the first step, but more often than not people will appreciate offers of help and support.  It’s important for communities to look out for each other to help us all stay well during the winter. If you have a friend or neighbour who is vulnerable then you can do your bit to help by checking in on them regularly and making sure they have everything they need to stay well this winter.

“We can all start the conversation by taking time to talk to our elderly neighbours and asking them if they need support with anything.  The help you offer could be as simple as helping them carry shopping home or offering assistance with household chores.  Don’t be afraid to offer to get their medication if they’re not able to and if you’re able, make sure they’re taking it as prescribed.

“Encourage them to call 111 if they feel unwell when pharmacies are closed – a trained NHS health care advisor will be able to help them.

“It’s important to make sure that their home is heated to at least 18°C throughout the winter. As well as being at a higher risk of colds and flu older people are more susceptible to strokes and heart problems during the cold weather.  If you can see they’re not looking or acting themselves encourage them to visit their local pharmacist for advice.”

For more advice on staying well this winter visit www.nhs.uk/staywell