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Winter weather can be seriously bad for our health

How cold can affect health

Winter weather can be seriously bad for our health, especially for people aged 65 or older, and people with long term conditions. Being cold can aggravate existing conditions and raise the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. However, there are lots of things you can do to help the person you care for stay well this winter.

Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments from the Government


Winter Fuel Payment

You could get between £100 and £300 tax-free to help pay your heating bills if you were born on or before 5 May 1953. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’.

Most payments are made automatically between November and December. You should get your money by Christmas.

You usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you get the State Pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit).

If you qualify but don’t get paid automatically, you’ll need to make a claim.

Any money you get won’t affect your other benefits.

More details here: https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment

Cold Weather Payments

You may get a Cold Weather Payment if you’re getting certain benefits.

You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below for 7 consecutive days.

The Cold Weather Payment scheme runs from 1 November 2016 to 31 March 2017. Check if you can get a payment in your area.

You’ll get a payment of £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.

Cold Weather Payments are different from Winter Fuel Payments.

More details here: https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment

How you can help

Get expert advice
Always seek advice from your pharmacist at the first sign of a cough or a cold before it gets more serious.

Buy over-the-counter medicines
Many over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibuprofen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as colds, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache).

Keep them warm
Keeping warm, both inside and outdoors, over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. The person you care for should:

  • Wear several layers of light clothes, as these trap warm air better than one bulky layer
  • Heat their home to at least 18C (65F)
  • Stay active – try not to let them sit still for more than an hour or so

Keep out the cold at night 
Keep their bedroom window closed on winter nights. Breathing cold air can be bad for health as it increases the risk of chest infections.

Get them the right help
Make sure they’re receiving all the help they are entitled to. Learn how to make their home more energy efficient and help take advantage of financial schemes to keep up with energy bills. See Keep Warm, Keep Well for details.

You can also check their heating and cooking appliances are safe and operating properly by contacting a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Read more at https://www.nhs.uk/staywell/carers#R0sQb8q8KeDUPixc.97