How to help older people stay healthy at home
This week millions of people have begun working from home as part of national measures to enforce social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. Over-70s and vulnerable are classified as high-risk groups and should stay inside for at least 3 months to avoid contracting COVID-19.
Staying physically and mentally healthy is often associated with the outdoors. Fresh air is usually the setting for alimentative hobbies such exercising and socialising. To aid your isolation, here is a guide for how to keep you and your family fit, well and safe over the next few weeks.
Join the Stay Safe community Facebook group and visit StaySafe.support
Self-isolation can be a very lonely time, especially if you are elderly and cannot see your family. Stay safe is a truly supportive community helping you and those you love stay safe and healthy in these challenging times.
There is a wealth of helpful resources, a network of experts at the forefront of accident prevention and first aid and a family of like-minded individuals to share experiences, answer questions and help support each other through life’s ups and downs.
You’ll find top tips, latest insights, guest posts and special offers, everything you need to ensure you have the knowledge to protect yourself and those you love and the confidence to help in a medical emergency.
It is vitally important to drink plenty of water, even if you are not thirsty.
Dehydration occurs when your body loses more water than it takes in. This is very common when you are ill.
A fever makes you sweat. Breathing faster releases more moisture. Diarrhoea can lead to a rapid loss of fluids and electrolytes as well.
The guideline for all adults is to drink 1.5-2 litres of fluid each day but older people tend to drink far less than this, particularly those who are inactive.
Drink plenty of water, juice or soup. Avoid coffee and alcohol as these are diuretics and will further dehydrate you.
Eat healthy food
The importance of a good diet is vital to health — and particularly so for older and vulnerable people.
‘The period of self-isolation will mean that older people need to pay extra attention to their dietary needs, ensuring they get all the minerals and vitamins they require,’ explains Alison Smith, registered dietitian and chair of the Older People Specialist Group at the British Dietetic Association.
A fibre-rich diet is very important, this includes things like porridge.
Vitamin B and B12 in the form of leafy green, broccoli and spinach are vital foods which can lower the risk of strokes and dementia.
Cooking is a good hobby which can be carried out at home, do be careful when in the kitchen as many accidents can happen here. Read our article about staying safe in the kitchen.
Stay fit indoors
Although older people will have to stay at home, it is vital that they keep moving.
As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass at a steady rate and this accelerates past the age of 75.
You should aim to get up on your feet at least once an hour.
If you have a garden, walk around it for 10 minutes several times a day.
Going up and down the stairs regularly is good exercise for your leg muscles, heart and lungs.
Marching on the spot is also good if you don’t have stairs in your house.
Lifting kitchen pans can also help keep you active and alert.
If you are able to, and prefer a more structured session, try a video class on Youtube. There are so many to choose from to cater for all abilities and preferences.
Organise your medicine cabinet
Like people of all ages; older people need to ensure they have the basic first-aid kit, but they may also need to stock up to treat things such as joint pain
Here’s a list of first aid essentials for the over-70s. (With all these drugs, take advice from your pharmacist, especially if already on medication.)
- Paracetamol: Can treat pain including headaches and toothaches and reduce fever. Avoid aspirin — it can affect blood clotting or cause stomach ulcers.
- Ibuprofen gel: A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkiller, it is particularly good for rheumatic and muscular aches and pains. As a topical gel it avoids any risk of stomach ulcers compared to pill form. Ibuprofen tablets have been linked with an increase risk from coronavirus, therefore this is to be avoided.
- Cough medicine: Pholcodine Linctus is a cough mixture which suppresses irritating, dry and tickly cough. Night medications contain a sedative which help you sleep, so don’t use it during the day.
- Stretchy bandages/tubigrip: helpful for sprains and strains.
- The older you get, the thinner the skin, so avoid sticky plasters if possible. Choose Mepore dressings (breathable dressings for cuts) or soft bandage dressings for minor wounds. Keep an eye on the wound and consult a health professional if it becomes hot, red or infected, or takes longer than usual to heal.
- Minor burns should be treated by holding the affected area under cold running water for a full 20 minutes.
- Bonjela: If you wear dentures, Bonjela can help soothe ulcers or mouth injuries.
- Sore throat spray: These numb the throat. They do work, but don’t drink overly hot drinks after using them. The effect can last an hour or more.
- Thermometer: A cheap digital thermometer is good but not absolutely necessary. You can usually tell you have a temperature if you look flushed and feel hotter than normal on your forehead.
When to contact your pharmacy
If you take regular medication, organise repeat prescriptions to be sent to your preferred pharmacy. Ask a friend or family member to pick them up or request a home delivery. Many pharmacies do this for free.
If you decide to take any health supplements, ask you pharmacist to ensure they don’t interact with your regular medication.
Avoid eating or drinking grapefruit and orange juice with medications as they can affect the absorption of the drugs in the body.
Keep mentally active and healthy
If you are tech savvy – have regular online chats with friends
Do a crossword or puzzle book
Watch the same TV programme with a distant friend, whilst chatting over the phone
Enjoy you have everything you need for your favourite hobby – gardening, knitting, crochet, cooking, or whatever it may be.
Take an online course
Staying at home allows you to learn a new vital skill, such as First Aid. While our practical courses are currently on hold, you can undertake online courses at onlinefirstaid.com.
www.onlinefirstaid.com has a wide range of interactive and engaging online first aid courses enabling you to gain an Appointed Person First Aid qualification and verifiable CPD.
There are videos, step by step directions, infographics, test yourself sections and you can download and print your own certificate that is valid for 3 years.
It is compatible with all devices and you can stop and start as often as you like. You have full access for an entire year.
Particularly ideal for anyone needing to top up their CPD, refresh their formal first aid qualifications, gain an Appointed Person first aid qualification, for teenagers to learn first aid (also suitable for DofE), for all parents, grandparents, older people and those caring for them and pet owners.
For anyone urgently needing a formal first aid qualification, we can offer a blend of online learning and 1:1 remote assessment via Skype, Facetime or Zoom.
You may also find the following Amazon Bestselling books:Burns, Falls and Emergency Calls and Slips, Trips and Fractured Hips – useful resources. Giving clear accident prevention and first aid advice for all ages.
There is also First Aid for Dogs to provide all pet lovers with the skills and confidence to help your pet in a medical emergency when you are unable to go to the vet.
We can help you stay healthy
First Aid for Life and Onlinefirstaid.com cover the treatment for high and low body temperatures on all our courses, including the treatment of febrile convulsions.
Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life
Award-winning first aid training tailored to your needs – Please visit our site and learn more about our practical and online courses. It is vital to keep your skills current and refreshed.
It is strongly advised that you attend a fully regulated Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit https://firstaidforlife.org.uk or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.
First Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning, fully regulated first aid training provider. Our trainers are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to your needs. Courses for groups or individuals at our venue or yours.
First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.