Staying well at home during coronavirus – information for older adults
For some of our older Hampshire residents, there are increased health risks from coronavirus so it’s more important than ever to look after your health and wellbeing. Making simple lifestyle changes can help you lead a healthier life and avoid preventable hospital admission, which is good for you and good for the NHS.
Here are our top tips.
- Reduce your risk of falls
Around 1 in 3 adults over 65 currently have at least one fall a year. Depending on the severity of the injury, one fall can greatly impact independence.
You can reduce your chances of having a fall by:
- Doing strength and balance exercises twice a week
- Making your home safer with tips from Age UK
- Reducing your alcohol intake as alcohol can lead to loss of co-ordination and exaggerate the effects of some medicines
- Ensuring you are eating and drinking healthily
- Taking your medications correctly. (See further information below)
- Eat well and stay hydrated
Maintaining a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids is vital to staying healthy.
Dehydration can have a serious impact on the health of older people. It can also lead to urinary tract infections and make the symptoms of other illnesses worse. Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of fluid each day.
Eating healthily helps you to gain maximum nutrition from your diet. Not eating enough of the right foods can cause you to become malnourished, this can lead to an increased risk of falls, low mood and reduced ability to carry out daily activities.
You can find more information from NHS at Eat Well, Staying Hydrated As We Get Older, 10 Ways to Stop Leaks and Dehydration. If you are struggling to get your shopping and keep up with eating and drinking well, find out what support is available to you.
- Stay active
Exercise brings many benefits to both our mental and physical health. There are lots of ways to exercise at home. Unless you are self-isolating, you are still encouraged to go outside for exercise with the people you live with, your support bubble, or one person from another household. You should stay two metres away from others.
Older adults should aim to be active every day and reduce the amount of time spent sitting. At least twice a week, do exercises to improve your muscle strength and balance which will help to reduce your risk of falling.
Find more information on sitting exercises from the NHS, 10 minutes of daily exercise and home activity from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
- Keep your home safe
As we are spending more time at home, it is important to make our homes as safe as possible, to reduce the chances of an accident, such as a fall.
Here are some simple steps you can take:
- Avoid leaving items on the stairs – they can become a trip hazard
- Wear well-fitting shoes and slippers
- Remove loose rugs, or use tape to stick down corners
- Make sure landings, stairs and hallways are well lit
- Have a nightlight or torch in the bedroom if you need to get up in the night
- Keep floors clear of trailing wires, fraying carpets and any other trip hazards
ROSPA has more tips to help over 65s keep their home safe.
With colder weather setting in, find out how to keep your home warm during the winter including what financial support may be available to you.
- Take your medication as prescribed
If you are taking regular medication, it’s vitally important to follow the instructions on the pack, ensuring also that you keep your medicine in the right conditions, for example, in the fridge if required.
Taking the right dose at the right time will minimise risk of unwanted side-effects. Some common medicines have side-effects linked to falls, for example, dizziness, drowsiness or difficulty thinking clearly. Learn what you should or should not take with them, such as food or alcohol, and take as prescribed. Always check the pack if unsure.
If you need help with remembering to take your medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice. There are also a variety of medication management tools available.
- Stop smoking
Smoking and breathing in second-hand smoke can lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to infections. Now is an ideal time to give up smoking to protect yourself and your family.
Quitting smoking rapidly reduces your risk of lung infections, heart attack and stroke which is especially important when health systems are under strain.
SmokefreeHampshire provides support and advice for new and existing patients. Call the Quitline on 01264 563039 or 0800 772 3649 or text Quit to 66777.
- Look after your mental health and wellbeing
There are some simple tips you can follow to look after your mental health during Coronavirus.
Connect with others – stay in touch with friends, family and your community by phone, Skype, email or post. Others may be feeling anxious about the situation so you can share encouragement and support each other.
Be active – See the Stay Active section above for more advice and useful links.
Keep learning – take the time to learn something new such as baking, gardening or drawing. Hampshire Libraries have made thousands of eBooks and audioBooks available to download on your phone or computer to keep you company at this time or help you learn a new hobby. There are also a host of resources available through libraries for Live Craft, IT or Health and Wellbeing.
Give – if you are in a position to help others safely, keep an eye out for volunteering opportunities. Many people and organisations need help at this time on a formal or informal basis. Giving can help create positive feelings and boost wellbeing.
Be mindful – simple mindfulness techniques are a great way to manage stress and anxiety by being in the present moment and appreciating your surroundings. This can help you let go of worries and can be a useful tool for developing a positive mindset. Resources can be found online or through eBooks from Hampshire Libraries.
Every Mind Matters offers more tips on looking after your mental health and wellbeing.
- Access health services when you need to
It is important to:
- get medical help if you think you need it
- keep any appointments or procedures you have book – unless you’re told not to go
- go to hospital if you’re advised to NHS services have made changes to make sure it’s for you to be seen during coronavirus.
There are also ways to get medical help and prescriptions online or over the phone.
- Stay warm at home
Keeping warm helps prevent conditions such as hypothermia, bronchitis, chest infections and pneumonia. Those at particular risk include vulnerable people such as the elderly, families on low income and people with long-term medical conditions.
If you are struggling to keep your home warm, visit the Hitting the Cold Spots web page or call the advice line on 0800 804 8601. The friendly Hampshire-based team will be able to provide a range of advice and assistance including one-off emergency fuel vouchers for pre-payment meters for people who meet certain eligibility criteria.
- Other useful resources for older people
- Connect to Support Hampshire has useful links and resources to support older and vulnerable people during this pandemic. This includes information specifically for older people as well as advice on mental health, domestic abuse, scams and long-term health conditions such as dementia.
- Connect to Support Hampshire also has top tips for staying independent at home, including advice which could help you to get online and socialise with friends and family.
- Information for unpaid carers looking after someone