Look out for the elderly in the Black Country this winter

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As winter starts to bite, the local NHS in the Black Country is urging people to look after their elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours.

Older people, in particular those that live alone, are especially susceptible to winter illnesses, yet it can be sometimes difficult for those at risk to admit that they need help. All too often elderly and vulnerable people end up being treated in hospital for long periods with symptoms that might not have been so serious and could have been managed effectively at home if they had only sought help sooner.

If you have a friend or neighbour who is vulnerable then you can do your bit to help by checking in on them regularly and making sure they have everything they need to stay well this winter.

Dr Helen Hibbs, Chief Officer of NHS Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: ‘It’s not always easy to take the first step, but more often than not people will appreciate offers of help and support. It’s important for communities to look out for each other to help us all stay well during the winter’

"We can all start the conversation by taking time to talk to our elderly neighbours and asking them if they need support with anything. The help you offer could be as simple as helping them carry shopping home or offering assistance with household chores. Don’t be afraid to offer to get their medication if they’re not able to and if you’re able, make sure they’re taking it as prescribed.

"Encourage them to call 111 if they feel unwell when pharmacies are closed – a trained NHS health care adviser will be able to help them.

"It’s important to make sure that their home is heated to at least 18°C to 21°C throughout the winter. As well as being at a higher risk of colds and flu, older people are more susceptible to strokes and heart problems during the cold weather. If you can see they’re not looking or acting themselves encourage them to visit their local pharmacist for advice."

The winter campaign to inform patients about the flu vaccine and the right NHS service to use for different conditions and illnesses is being run by the four clinical commissioning groups across the Black Country in association with the Black Country Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.