As the days grow shorter and temperatures begin to dip, winter’s approach is a reminder to us all to take extra precautions. While winter has its own charm, it also brings with it risks that can disproportionately affect our more vulnerable loved ones. It’s a season that sees a surge in hospital admissions, often leaving families scrambling to arrange unsustainable care at the last minute.
According to a study by the Live-in Care Hub, 88% people aged 70 and below have not planned for care. This has left many to be forced into a care situation that doesn’t best suit their needs. It can bring family and friends to breaking point and rush them to make an ill-informed decision about the care of a loved one.
This article aims to shed light on why it is crucial to have a live-in care plan in place before winter’s challenges strike. We will delve into the increased risks vulnerable adults face during the harsher months, the problems of last-minute care arrangements, and the advantages of proactive planning. Discover why now is the perfect time to ensure that you have the right live-in care set up for your loved ones, and how Country Cousins can help make this winter a safe and comfortable one.
The Reality of Winter Risks
Common Winter Ailments
Winter brings with it health risks that are particularly concerning for the elderly, so much so that the Office for National Statistics measure the number of excess winter deaths (EWDs) each year. Cold weather increases the risk of these ailments that affect the older population:
Flu – The influenza virus is significantly more active during the winter months. For older adults, a bout of the flu can lead to severe complications, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Exposure to cold, dry air can also affect the body’s immune system and reduce its ability to fight these viruses.
Respiratory problems – Cold weather often aggravates respiratory problems, and pneumonia is a leading cause of hospital admissions among the elderly in winter. Pre-existing conditions like COPD can make individuals even more susceptible.*
Slips and Falls – Icy paths and slippery surfaces increase the risk of falls, which can lead to fractures and other injuries that are much more challenging to recover from in old age.
Heart Conditions – Cold weather puts added strain on the heart, which is especially risky for those already dealing with cardiovascular issues.
Hypothermia – Older adults lose body heat more quickly, making them susceptible to hypothermia, especially if they are not adequately dressed for the weather.
Given these risks, having a professional live-in carer to monitor signs and symptoms can be life-saving.
Winter doesn’t just take a toll on physical health; it can also have a significant impact on mental health and well-being. Reduced daylight hours and the limitations imposed by cold weather can lead to increased feelings of:
Loneliness – Older people are already more prone to isolation, and winter weather can make it difficult for them to leave the house or receive visitors.
Depression – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that commonly occurs during winter. Older people are not immune to this and may require additional emotional support.
Anxiety – Concerns about slipping and falling, or the fear of contracting a winter illness, can contribute to increased anxiety levels during these colder months.
Cognitive Decline – Lack of social interaction and physical activity can exacerbate symptoms in those already suffering from cognitive impairments, such as dementia.
With a qualified live-in carer from Country Cousins, you can ensure that your loved ones receive not just physical care, but also the emotional and psychological support they need to get through the winter months.
Strain on the NHS
The winter season exerts significant pressure on the NHS, leading to heightened demands both in the community and hospitals. It is an annual challenge as hospital admission rates experience a substantial surge during this period while the NHS provides support to patients dealing with seasonal illnesses.
According to Nuffield Trust, hospital admissions increase by 1% for every 1°C drop in temperature and December 2022 saw the worst national performance to date on waiting times for ambulances, in A&E departments and for patients on trolleys waiting for a hospital bed.
Not only is the chance of ill health befalling our loved ones more likely in the winter, but the NHS is therefore less effective.
The Emergency Trap: A Cautionary Tale
Imagine Jane, a 75-year-old woman living alone. Her family has been meaning to arrange live-in care for her but kept postponing, thinking they have time. Then, winter comes around, and Jane slips on an icy patch right outside her home, fracturing her hip. The family is thrown into panic mode, rushing to find emergency care while also dealing with hospital admissions and subsequent surgery.
Had a live-in carer been in place, they could have ensured that the walkways were salted, and perhaps even provided physical support for Jane when she needed to go out, minimising the risk of such an accident. Now, the family finds themselves making rushed decisions about her care, trying to secure any available option rather than the best option for Jane.
Cost of Last-Minute Care
Rapidly securing care in emergency scenarios is not only stressful but also costly. You may find yourself agreeing to services that are beyond your budget simply because immediate action is required.
It is not just the monetary costs that are concerning. The emotional toll of making hasty, potentially life-altering decisions for a loved one can be significant. The regret of not having acted sooner can cause family tensions and add another layer of stress to an already difficult time.
Finally, hastily arranged care can sometimes result in a poor match between the carer and the client, which may impact the quality of care.
Benefits of Proactive Live-in Care
Prevention Over Cure
Engaging in regular, quality care is invaluable for the early detection of potential health concerns. A professional live-in carer is trained to spot even the most subtle shifts, whether it is a sign of an emerging infection or a slight change in mood. Early recognition allows for quick medical action, preventing what could be a minor ailment from becoming a life-altering issue. This is particularly vital for vulnerable adults, where seemingly small health problems can escalate quickly into major conditions requiring extensive medical intervention.
When time is on your side, you can find a live-in carer who truly fits your loved one’s unique needs. Emergency situations force hasty decisions, often resulting in a poor care match. Country Cousins prides itself on thoughtful, effective matching, even when time is of the essence.
Peace of Mind
The emotional comfort of knowing your loved one is well-taken care of cannot be overstated, particularly in the challenging winter months. A pre-arranged live-in care plan does not just benefit the supported client; it provides peace of mind for the entire family. You can go about your daily activities and enjoy the festive season, secure in the knowledge that experienced professionals are offering comprehensive care and support to your loved ones.
Proactive live-in care is more than just a service; it is an investment in the well-being and happiness of your family. It allows everyone to face the winter season with assurance and peace.
How Country Cousins Can Help
Navigating the challenges of home care in winter is easier when you have a trusted partner. At Country Cousins, we have been providing exceptional live-in care for over 60 years. Our trained live-in carers are adept at spotting early signs of common winter ailments, offering both preventative and emergency support.
Available within 24 hours, our service is both flexible and reliable. We take the time to match your loved one with a live-in carer who complements their unique needs and personality, offering quality live-in care from just £980 per week. Plus, our nationwide coverage ensures that wherever you are in the UK, we can support you.
Don’t wait for an emergency to make care arrangements. The peace of mind that comes from being prepared is invaluable. With Country Cousins, you’re not just choosing a service, but a partner committed to high-quality, affordable live-in care.
Contact us today and make this winter a secure and joyful season for you and your loved ones. Our friendly team is available to answer all your questions Monday to Friday, between 8am and 6pm on 01293 224706. Alternatively, fill in our online enquiry form and we will be in touch soon.