Winter brings its own seasonal illnesses that affect our health. This year, we need to all be more vigilant in preventing the spread of illnesses such as the flu, as well as keeping ourselves and those around us safe from coronavirus.
Influenza (flu) is more likely to spread in the winter months and can affect anyone at any age, particularly people aged over 65 or living with a long-term health condition. The symptoms of the flu include a high temperature, aching body, feeling tired, a dry cough and sore throat, however, some of these are also the sign of COVID-19; if you start to have a continuous cough, a high temperature or there is a change to your sense of smell or taste, book a coronavirus test.
The flu vaccination can prevent you from influenza, and is free for anyone aged over 65, is living with certain medical conditions, living in a long-stay residential home or is considered high-risk to COVID-19. Anyone receiving a carer’s allowance and is the main carer of an elderly or disabled person or is employed within the Health and Social sector, you are also eligible for a free flu jab. More information about the vaccination can be found on the NHS website here.
Winter can see a flare-up of arthritis for those who are affected. The reasons why are unknown, but research suggests it is due to the atmospheric drop and colder temperatures which cause pressure inside people’s joints that push on the nerves. Keeping warm, having a balanced and healthy diet, regular exercises or relaxing can help, whilst smoking and drinking too much caffeine can hinder the process of treatment.
Cold weather not only affects physical health but can have a big impact on mental health.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs during the different seasons, particularly autumn and winter. Symptoms of SAD include a persistent low mood, irritability, loss of pleasure or interest in everyday activities, feeling lethargic and a lack of energy, sleeping longer than normal or feeling despair or guilt. SAD has been linked to the reduced exposure of sunlight, with researching suggesting it is caused by the production of melatonin which makes us feel sleepy, the production of serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and appetite, and the body’s internal clock that can be disrupted in winter. GPs will often recommend different treatments for SAD, depending on what is suitable for the individual, including changes to lifestyle, light therapy, talking therapies or medication.
This past year has had a big impact on mental health, as we have not been able to spend time with loved ones as we used to, and many people have felt isolated and anxious as the world tackles COVID-19. As the temperature drops, more people will be to staying indoors, especially those who are vulnerable or not as mobile as others. Half of those aged 75 and over live alone, so winter months can lead to isolation and loneliness for the older generation. National and local COVID-19 restrictions have prevented families from visiting other households, however, the use of video calls can help vulnerable people see a friendly face.
At Heritage Healthcare, our care team are continuing to support clients with personal care, household help, complex needs and companionship. They have worked hard over the past year to deliver high-quality support to enable more people to feel safe and secure within their own home. Throughout the winter season, the care team will be on hand to support clients, helping to collect essential items and medications, becoming a trusted visitor to provide reassurance and socialisation.
To find your nearest Heritage Healthcare office, please click here.