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STAY_WELL_THIS_WINTER_Final_Logo3_RGB-01.pngTaking care of vulnerable relatives and neighbours this winter

Residents in Southwark are encouraged to help elderly and vulnerable members of their family and neighbours stay well this winter.

People with long term conditions and those aged over 65 are more susceptible to serious winter illnesses, so it is important that they are encouraged and supported to keep healthy during colder months. This includes having a flu vaccination to protect them from serious illness.

Cold weather and winter illnesses can make long term health conditions such as asthma, COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, and heart or kidney disease far worse. The cold can also be very harmful for over 65s as it weakens the immune system, increases blood pressure, thickens the blood and lowers body temperature, increasing risks of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and chest infections.

Dr Yvonneke Roe, local GP and Clinical Lead for Prevention at NHS Southwark CCG, said: "Respiratory illnesses are more common because of the cold and damp, and I would encourage people with elderly neighbours and relatives to drop in more often and just check they are OK.

"A lot of people suffer in silence which only makes things worse, especially during a prolonged cold snap. Getting the flu jab and taking all precautions when ill allows people to stay in their own homes and not put an unnecessary strain on GP surgeries and hospitals.

"It can also be a lonely time for the elderly if they are trapped inside. A quick visit and chat can make all the difference."

It is important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors as it can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), if you can, you might prefer your living room to be slightly warmer. Check if you qualify for an Affordable Warmth Grant (0300 123 1234) and/or Winter Fuel Payment (03459 151515) to help cover the costs of keeping warm.

At the first sign of a cough or a cold, get help from your pharmacist before it gets more serious. If you need help when your GP surgery or pharmacy is closed, visit Stay Well