Winter and older people

Winter can be hard for older people. If you know an older person, check on them regularly.

Tips for keeping warm

It can be harder for older people to keep warm in winter.

Here is some advice for keeping warm:

Do

  • dress in layers ⁠— a few light layers will keep you warmer than 1 heavy layer.

  • wear thermal underwear.

  • keep active indoors by walking around or try some indoor exercises.

  • hot drinks can also help you keep warm ⁠— have them during the day and before bed.

  • eat at least 1 hot meal per day to help you stay warm.

Keeping your home warm in winter

Heavy curtains and draught excluders help to keep the heat in.

An electric blanket can make your bed warm, but make sure to turn it off before you get into bed.

Be careful with air quality if you have an open fire or a gas stove. Make sure your carbon monoxide alarm is working.

There are grants that can help you improve your home for winter.

Learn more about Home Energy Grants - SEAI.ie

Heating your home in winter

Keep the room that you spend the most time in warm.

It can be hard to keep the heating on if you are worried about bills. But it's important to keep your house warm. It will help you avoid getting sick and keep your house from getting damp.

Try to keep the heating above 21 degrees Celsius.

If you are worried about bills, there are some government schemes that can help you pay them.

Fuel Allowance - citizensinformation.ie

Household Benefits Package - citizensinformation.ie

Hypothermia

Hypothermia happens when your body temperature drops below 35 degrees Celsius.

Older people are at higher risk of hypothermia.

Urgent advice: Call 112 or 999 if someone has any of the signs of hypothermia:

  • shivering
  • pale, cold and dry skin – their lips and skin may be blue
  • slurred speech
  • slow breathing
  • tiredness or confusion

Services for older people

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels can provide hot meals if you are not able to make them for yourself. Ask your public health nurse (PHN) or GP for details of your local service.

Day services

Day services are places where you can spend the day in a warm environment. Your GP or PHN will know if there are any near you.

Home Support Services

Home Support Services can also help you with everyday tasks including:

  • getting in and out of bed
  • dressing and undressing
  • personal care such as showering and shaving

Learn more about Home Support Services

Loneliness

Isolation can be very difficult, especially in winter when it is dark.

ALONE

ALONE are a service that support older people who are lonely.

Phone ALONE on 0818 222 024

Visit alone.ie

Friends of the Elderly

Friends of the Elderly run a friendly call service.
To sign up, phone 01 873 1855.

Stay well in winter

Keep your vaccines up to date to prevent serious illness.

Book a COVID-19 vaccine booster if you are due one

Get your flu vaccine

Speak to your GP if you have never had a pneumococcal vaccine. It will prevent pneumonia. You only need to get it once.

How to keep well in winter

Preparing for bad weather

It's important to prepare for bad weather in winter.

Have extra food in case the weather makes it hard to go to the shop. It's good to have meals in your freezer that you can defrost, or tinned foods that keep for a long time.

Many supermarkets will deliver your groceries.

Make sure you have enough medicine in case you cannot go to the pharmacy.

Checking on older people

If you have family or neighbours who are older, make sure they are not alone.

You can:

  • check in on them in person
  • see if they need anything brought to them
  • phone them

It's especially important to check on them if there is bad weather coming. Make sure they have enough food and medicine.

Page last reviewed: 2 November 2022
Next review due: 2 November 2025