The ultimate winter toolkit for older people
28th November 2018
As the winter rolls around, the cold weather brings with it a number of challenges that can be hard to overcome. From trying to preserve beloved gardens through the frost, to knowing the best ways to keep a house warm, there is a lot of information out there. With so much information in different places, it can often become a case of jumping between sources, trying to establish which is most accurate and which to trust.
This ultimate winter toolkit for older people brings together a range of experts from all over the web to share the best advice to tackle myriad winter issues. Perfect for stairlift or homelift users, and those simply looking for a few top tips. Roll your cursor over each room of the house in the graphic below to reveal a key piece of advice. Journey from room to room with us, as we provide all the tools and tips necessary to get the best out of winter.
Also, we are giving away to one lucky reader a free Heated Cape! (as featured in the article) This is the perfect garment to keep you warm this winter. Make sure to fill in the entry form at the end of this article to enter the prize draw by January 2nd, 2019.
Please click on the topic you are interested in and you will jump to the appropriate area of the article.
- How to keep your home warm throughout the winter
- Tips for dressing for the winter
- Perfect winter activities for you and your grandchildren
- Technology that everyone needs for the winter
- Winter meals to keep you warm in the colder months
- How to keep your garden going throughout the winter
- Tips for enjoying a winter holiday
- Get even more tips from our infographic
- Win a heated cape
How to keep your home warm throughout the winter
Wrap up and stay cosy
Claire Kirby from the lifestyle and parenting blog Life, Love and Dirty Dishes knows that even with the right heating and insulation, sometimes the house can just be chilly regardless. Her advice for keeping warm during the winter months, therefore, is to make yourself as cosy as possible: “Blankets all the way. From a nice cosy fleecy blanket to snuggle under on the sofa to an electric heated blanket on my bed. I'm rarely seen in my house in the winter without a blanket! And they come in any colour to compliment your decor!”
Try to keep as much heat in the house as possible
As soon as the sun goes down and stops feeding warmth into any room of the house, drawing a thick pair of curtains is a great way to add an extra layer of insulation. Heat escapes out of windows due to their lack of insulation, but by adding a layer between the windows and a room you create another barrier to keep warm air in and cold air out. However, if the sun is shining in, pull the curtains back and allow the rays to heat the room throughout the day, then as soon as the room falls into shadow close the curtains to preserve heat.
Jennifer Rojas from the parenting resource Mommybites understands what it takes to keep a home warm and cosy in the winter. Her advice pertains to trapping in heat at night time and welcoming in the sun when it’s out: “Let as much sun in as possible during the day. At sundown, close your curtains to retain heat. Thick curtains help the loss of heat through windows at night. You can shut doors to any rooms you're not using. This will help contain the heat you've generated in a smaller area. Also, make sure that your furniture isn't blocking any heating vents or radiators.”
Rugs are great if your floor is always cold
A cold floor can make or break a house, even if the rest of the room is well insulated and heated, stepping barefoot on a cold laminate floor will send chills up your spine. Rugs are a great way to combat this, and even in carpeted rooms can add another warm layer to keep toes and feet as warm as possible.
Move your sofa
Having a sofa in front of the radiator may seem like a cosy idea, but it actually prevents a lot of the heat from being able to properly circulate. Keeping all radiators uncovered, by sofas, drying clothes, curtains or more will mean they can work to their full potential and you’ll feel the full benefit when your heating is on.
To get even more benefit from radiators, you can buy or make radiator panels, which reflect the heat produced back into the room. These reflective panels are easy to install and ensure that no heat is lost to the wall.
Block out draughts
It may seem obvious but blocking drafts can make a big difference. Using draught excluders that sit along the bottom of a door frame or getting a handyman in to reseal doors and windows can stop unwanted cold air getting into any room. Draught excluders are relatively cheap and take no installing, plus they can be moved so are great for doors that are constantly in use.
How to keep your home warm throughout the winter:
- Wrap up and stay cosy
- Try and keep as much heat in the house as possible
- Rugs are great if your floor is always cold
- Move your sofa
- Buy radiator panels
- Block out draughts
Tips for Dressing for the winter
A large down coat is a must
Josephine, blogger and style icon at Chic at Any Age, a fashion resource for women over 50 who are interested in style, knew instantly what her number one recommendation would be: “That is easy! The best quality down coat you can afford. Uniqlo do some excellent reasonably priced ones. They also do a good range of thermal underwear great for layering. A scarf will also help to keep your neck warm and a hat stops heat from escaping from the top of the head.”
A sweater dress is perfect for the colder months
Vicki Archer, a blogger from Australia who now lives in England and has an affinity for fashion and beauty recommended a sweater dress. Explaining why, Vicki said: “Stylish sweater dresses are simple; they work for every occasion. If the weather is mild enough to wear without any heavy layers, style with boots and a leather jacket. Wear hair loose and add a few pieces of jewellery. Edgy.
“If we’re feeling more casual, try a cute pair of sneakers and a tote bag. Classic. For an evening look, go with strappy heels and a hint of rouge on the lips for elegant night-time attire. Sophisticated.
“Sweater dresses look fabulous in the dark depths of winter. Wear with a faux fur coat, thick black tights and ankle boots, an ensemble we can rely on from fall to spring. Cosy.”
Hats are the perfect accessory for every outfit
Judith, a 75-year-old fashion blogger known online as Style Crone champions individuality and life. Her recommendation: “The one item that I could not live without in winter is a hat or any stylish form of headwear. Heat escapes from the head, so headwear serves the function of providing warmth. More importantly, it provides a way to express myself through style, can change the mood of any outfit, and adds an element of flair to the day. I love the felts and fabrics that take me through the colder months. They are conversation starters and get you a better seat at a restaurant. I seldom walk out the door without a hat, and the colder months are no exception!”
Thin layers are great for building warmth
When dressing for warmth, many people think one think layer is superior to many thinner ones. Although it may be a quicker solution, by layering thin items, you can gain more control over your body heat, and trap more heat in, in the long run. Between each item of clothing there will be a small layer of warm air, and by taking off or adding items it’s possible to make more subtle changes to your body temperature. This is why items like long johns, vests and undershirts are such usual things to have in the wardrobe during winter.
A stylish pair of winter boots will protect your feet from the elements
Deborah, blogger and advisor at Fabulous after 40, advises a warm pair of boots for the ultimate winter wardrobe: “When you are outside in the winter, in the wind, snow, and ice, you need a really good pair of insulated winter boots. They need to be waterproof, sturdy and very comfy. They should also be easy to slip on and off without too much fuss.
“Just because you need them to be practical doesn’t mean they can’t be stylish too. Gone are the days of boring winter boots. To look stylish and stay warm, look for high-quality winter boots in suede, leather, nylon or sheepskin. Choose boots with modern details like laces, buckles, and interesting colours and finishes that match your style personality. Whether you buy a pair of sleek and elegant suede winter boots, sporty nylon puffer boots, or even edgy leather combat boots, it’s totally up to you. Just be sure they really can stand up to a cold weather climate, and they keep your feet comfy and toasty. Your feet will thank you!”
Tips for dressing for the winter
- A large down coat is a must
- A sweater dress is perfect for the colder months
- Hats are the perfect accessory for every outfit
- Thin layers are great for building warmth
- A stylish pair of winter boots will protect your feet from the elements
Perfect winter activities for you and your grandchildren
Indoor games are perfect for fun days in
Teresa Kindred from NanaHood, the fun and informative blog for ‘the second half of the motherhood journey, says that she and her grandchildren love to play games at home come winter time, recommending a handful of ideas for grandparents to try: “Our grands love Lego, puzzles and movie nights. This is a link to a campout I did for them around Christmastime last year. They loved it! They also enjoy games of any sort. We have had scavenger hunts and hide and seek is always popular.”
Enjoy the delights of Easton Lodge
Of course, just because it’s cold out, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the delightful outdoor attractions available. Easton Lodge in Great Dunmow is one such location, these idyllic historic gardens are a perfect attraction for grandparents to bring their grandchildren as winter is coming to an end and the spring season beckons. Full details of all the 2019 Open Days, starting on 17 and 24 February, are available from the website. Easton Lodge says:
“The historic Gardens of Easton Lodge have looked magnificent in 2018. The Trust and its volunteers have continued to make great progress in restoring the Countess of Warwick’s gardens and their Harold Peto design legacy. They have extended the range of flowers in the sunken Italian garden, packed the historic walled kitchen garden with vegetables and welcomed in a hive of honey bees. The trees in the Glade have shimmered in the spring sunshine, provided shade in the heat of the summer and had gorgeous colour in the autumn.”
Take a stroll in a scenic village like Clovelly
If a lodge or gardens don’t appeal, try taking a stroll in a scenic village like Clovelly. Situated on the north coast of Devon, Clovelly is a small and picturesque town perfect for a fascinating wander through its beautiful environs. Devon is a truly stunning part of the country so if you’re in the area, heading down to Clovelly is a must. The cobbled path that weaves from the top of the hill down to the sea affords walkers great views across the sea. It’s a walk both mobile grandparents and grandchildren will fall in love with.
Serve hot cocoa and cake at home for your own tea party
Journeys out to coffee shops are a lovely way to keep warm in the winter and enjoy some personal time together. However, if the weather takes a turn, throwing a tea party at home is a great idea. In the morning grandchildren and grandparents can bake cakes together, ready for lunchtime when a small feast is served along with tea and hot cocoa. For an even more authentic touch, a choice tablecloth and music in the background can transform any room into a contemporary coffee shop.
Build a fort in your living room for TV time
Lynne Spreen, author and blogger at Any Shiny Thing suggests: “Fort making. Clothespins and bed sheets all over the living room!” Fort making is a lovely joint activity and only needs some simple supplies like blankets and pegs, along with some imagination. Either set the children a challenge to build the best fort or help and then when all is done it’ll be the perfect place to snuggle up and watch a movie together.”
Puzzles and riddles are great for the mind, and for fun
Catherine Eagleson, the creative director and puzzle designer at Clue Detective Puzzle Agency suggests puzzles as a fantastic activity for grandparents and grandchildren, and a great thing for someone to pass on to the younger generation: “Playing word games and puzzles with your grandchildren is very positive and will help them develop a love of life-long learning and have a lot of fun along the way!"
Blogger, author, and grandma Linda Jacob, known online as Baby Boomer Lola, recommends riddles and word games: “A special aura and excitement hover around winter holidays. While schools close for a couple of weeks and adults take holiday, multiple opportunities for family gatherings surface. That means grandparents get to see their children and grandchildren more. I’m a grandma to a nine-year-old wonderful boy who loves to read and who collects riddles and trick questions that challenge the mind. On winter times, when the cold outside pokes the bones, staying indoors is most preferred. These are good times to engage the youths in conversation or story-telling or reading. With my grandson, I take great delight in lively repartee triggered by riddles, trick questions and word games like word Pictionary. You can tell, I love these word and mind games, especially when I play with my grandson who often takes the lead in managing these games. Try this with your grandchildren. Remember to laugh a lot. It’s okay to give way to spontaneous giggles or chuckles; they come with the territory of playing with your adorable grandchildren.”
Ask grandchildren to share their own stories
Sometimes, the simplest solution can be the most successful. As a great way to bond, talking to grandchildren about their own stories and what is going on in their life is a great way to spend a day together.
Blogger, Baby Boomer Lola, weighed in on this: “When the riddles run dry, and they will, unless you want repeats, ask your grandchildren to tell you stories about school, or of activities and projects they’re involved in, or of books they’ve read. Recently, my grandson showed me a comic book he and three friends created. Marvellous imagination and creativity. When my grandson read me the conversation text on every panel, I thought, this boy reading to his grandma felt wonderful. While often what happens is grandparents reading to their grandchildren – it gives the youths a boost of confidence and sense of accomplishment when you ask them to read to you. And if the young ones haven't yet mastered the skill of reading, that just might motivate them to learn more how to read, so they can read to Grandma and Grandpa.”
Historical visits are great for learning experiences for both of you
When thinking about historical sites in the UK, one of the first that comes to mind is certainly Stonehenge. This ancient site is a must if you’ve not been before, even if it’s just to say you have seen it in person and to provide great memories for your grandkids. The team at Visit Stonehenge explained why it is such a good place for an educational and fun day out: “A visit to Stonehenge is a great experience starting with the visitor centre with its informative displays and immersive circular cinema room. It feels as though you’re standing right in the middle of the stone circle and you can see exactly how the stones are lined up with the summer solstice.
“In the museum itself, you can find out more about the site’s history and how Stonehenge has changed over time.
“Outside of the centre, there is a reconstructed Neolithic village and try pulling one of the stones to check your strength. Time to board the land train to visit Stonehenge Circle about a mile away. You can sense the mystery of the Stones and the awe of the site. Well worth a visit.”
Perfect winter activities for you and your grandchildren
- Indoor games are perfect for fun days in
- Enjoy the delights of Easton Lodge
- Take a stroll in a scenic village like Clovelly in Devon
- Serve hot cocoa and cake at home for your own tea party
- Build a fort in your living room for TV time
- Puzzles and riddles are great for the mind, and for fun
- Ask grandchildren to share their own stories
- Historical visits are great learning experiences for both of you
Technology that everyone needs for the winter
Keep warm and cosy with a luxury heated blanket
A tried and tested method of keeping warm during winter is with throws and duvets, but how about taking things up a notch with a luxury heated blanket? Win Health Medical has a great selection, including this cosy heated cape (which you can win by entering the form at the end of the article). Speaking about its virtues, Win Health Medical said: “Beurer HD 50 Heated Cape can help to reduce the risk of hypothermia and associated health problems. It can also help to reduce the misery of unhealthy cold temperatures of an unheated home. The electrically powered heated cape can provide comforting warmth quickly and economically and in any room of your home.
“Beurer HD 50 Cosy Heated Cape is soft, large, roomy, breathable and skin friendly. It can be used when relaxing, reading or watching TV. You can wrap yourself in the soothingly warm cape, wear it over your shoulders or use it as an over blanket to warm up your entire body during a nap on a sofa or in bed. The heated cape is light and easy to move from room to room, wherever or whenever you need it. The gentle heat soothes aches and pains, helping you relax in comfort and in warmth. Beurer HD 50 Cosy Heated Cape provides warmth and comfort on the coldest days and nights!”
Utilise a fan heater for added warmth
In the business of staying warm during the cold winter months, investing in a fan heater for your living room or bedroom would a great idea. This is the great advice suggested by Carrie Aimes of the disability blog Life on the Slow Lane: “It’s important to maintain a warm and consistent temperature in your home throughout the winter. Government guidelines advise heating our living rooms to 21C (70F). Exposure to extreme and varied temperatures can leave you vulnerable to ill health and infection. Most of us now have central heating which can be controlled from our mobile phones. Another good option is to invest in a fan heater. There are many on the market to suit every budget and they are quick and simple to use.”
For those wanting to pick up a fan heater, Craigmore has a top selection available. Speaking about their heaters, Craigmore said: “Here at Craigmore, we offer a selection of heaters throughout the autumn/winter months that range in sizes and prices. The one in particular that we believe to be perfect for older people wanting to stay warm this winter is the SIP 09160 Fireball Turbofan 3000.
“This heater is a lightweight heater, making it extremely easy to transport all over the home and it also has two heat levels so you can pick which level suits you best. It is one of the smaller heaters, making it the perfect size for your home and it is highly efficient. It is simple to use: simply plug it into a 230v domestic household supply and you are ready to go (not to be run from an extension lead as this will blow the fuse). The SIP 09160 Fan Heater is a no fuss, easy-to-use and powerful heater that would be perfect for any older person wanting to stay warm in the winter.”
Use technology to get yourself online
Teresa from NanaHood also has a top tip when it comes to technology. With the advent of the internet, staying indoors when the weather is cold is not the pain it once was, as the web opens the door to many opportunities for entertainment and self-progression. Teresa advises: “Because I am a nana blogger, I think every grandparent should have a computer, laptop or iPad. There are so many wonderful things for folks our age to do online. Such as visit sites that have information on topics you are interested in (like NanaHood). I write about everything from fun places to travel, activities you can do with your grandchildren, recipes and much, much more. Social media is fun, too. NanaHood’s Facebook page has over 42,000 grandparents from all over the world who love to interact and share their advice.”
Technology that everyone needs for winter:
- Luxury heated blanket
- Heated cape
- Fan heater
Winter meals to keep you warm in the colder months
Eat traditional warming foods to stay warm
With the chilly weather, we need to do everything possible to stay warm. There aren’t many better ways to do so (and perk ourselves up in the process) during the dark winter months than by enjoying warm, hearty meals. There are plenty of options available, and none of which require gourmet kitchen skills. Traditional and simple foods like stew and porridge will truly go down a treat, helping all to stay warm this winter. Basics like this will be just the remedy required.
A warm bowl of soup is simple, warming, and healthy
Liz Earle, founder and editor-in-chief of Liz Earle Wellbeing, is an award-winning voice when it comes to wellbeing. As such, Liz is the perfect person to ask for tips on delicious meals to enjoy during winter: “During the colder months, there are few things more enjoyable than a delicious bowl of warming soup. Whether it’s a thick, wholesome, almost-chewable broth or a clear, intense consommé, a simple soup, in my opinion, is pretty unbeatable for winter wellbeing and for helping to stay warm. Eating soup is also a great way to pack nutrients into our diet. Vegetable-based recipes are a great source of soluble fibre, and soups that contain grains such as barley and brown rice will have plenty of insoluble fibre, both essential for a healthy digestive system.”
Hearty curries with immunity-boosting herbs
Holly Inglis, from the food inspiration blog The Healthy Hunter, loves getting people excited about cooking. Her advice when it comes to winter meals involves warming curries and delicious vegetable soup: “I love to eat hearty curries and vegetable soup to warm up in winter. It's a great way to get loads of vegetables into your diet and it's easy to use seasonal vegetables or what you have left in your fridge in a winter vegetable soup like this one. Curries are also a great way to include immunity-boosting herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric and cinnamon. Slow cooked meat is also easier on your digestion and this Lamb and Eggplant Curry is incredibly tasty, you can swap the eggplant for butternut squash or your favourite winter vegetable too.”
Scalloped potatoes with ham and broccoli
Kate, from the food and recipe blog Thyme for Cooking, has some wonderful winter meal ideas up her sleeve: “We start to think about warm, comfort foods as the weather turns cold this time of year. Hearty meals give the body the fuel it needs to stay warm.” To help keep warm during winter, Kate’s first suggestion is: “One of my favourites is Scalloped Potatoes with Ham and Broccoli, with the added heat coming from onions and hot mustard. Preparation time is fast, only 15 minutes, followed by an hour in the oven to warm the kitchen and perfume the house.”
Goulash Soup is an ideal winter meal
Soup is a popular meal choice during winter, and for great reason. Kate from Thyme for Cooking also suggests one of her favourite soup variations for those looking to stay warm this winter with this delicious recipe idea: “Everyone thinks of soup as a warming winter meal. I especially like Goulash Soup, it’s quick and easy, made with ground beef, and is ready in under an hour. It has both paprika and chilli powder which contains capsaicin to provide an additional warming effect. Of course, you can also add hot sauce for added heat.”
Salsa Soup is easy in a slow cooker
Elizabeth Layman, project manager at DisabilityFEAST – a site dedicated to food education for those with disabilities – has recommended one of her favourite recipes for keeping warm this winter, opting for salsa soup, cooked in a slow cooker: “Soups are low-energy, one-pot meals that can be made with just about anything you find in your refrigerator. For a super easy soup trick, toss all the ingredients into a slow cooker/crock pot and leave it to make soup while you’re out of the house or asleep. You can store soup in small containers to eat throughout the week for snacks or lunch, and soup freezes well too. (Just make sure you don’t fill the containers up all the way to the top when you freeze soup because liquid expands when frozen!)
“Prep Time: 0, Cook Time: 4-6 hours, Serves: 6. Ingredients: 3 cups (26 ounces) corn-black bean mild salsa, 6 cups beef broth, 1/4 cup white long grain rice (uncooked). Directions: 1. Combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker/crock pot. 2. Cover. Cook on Low for 4-6 hours or until the rice is tender.”
Winter meals to keep you warm in the colder months:
- Vegetable soup
- Hearty curries with immunity-boosting herbs
- Scalloped potatoes with ham and broccoli
- Goulash soup
- Salsa soup
How to keep your garden going throughout the winter
Clean up garden beds and protect non-annual plants
One point of action for those who are fond of their gardens is to make sure that they are protected come winter. Numerous actions can be taken, but one top tip is to make sure that your precious garden beds are clean and tidy and that everything that isn’t annual is covered up before autumn ends. Annual plants including the likes of vegetables will die should the weather become frosty. So, make sure to protect these from the elements and clean up dead foliage, especially plants that have died of disease.
Prepare your garden for winter in stages
Image credit: The Middle-Sized Garden
Alexandra Campbell, from the gardening blog The Middle-Sized Garden, is full of wonderful advice for those looking to keep their garden in tip-top shape come winter time, with further tips also being available on The Middle-Sized Garden YouTube page. Alexandra’s main advice, however, falls under the umbrella of preparing your garden in stages: “Don't feel you have to get your garden ready for winter all at once. Leaves can be left where they fall in borders and beneath shrubs, as they decompose to provide nutrients and provide shelter for wildlife. Don't cut ornamental grasses back until March and leave seed heads on flowers wherever possible as they will create interesting shapes for frost.
“Carry on weeding, especially after a mild spell and, once you've weeded a patch, add a layer of compost or mulch on top. Don't dig it in, just let it sit there. The worms will gradually work it in, but while it lies on top it will cut out light from weed seeds and slow weed growth. I find it helpful to set an alarm for 15 minutes - I do 15 minutes weeding, cover the bare soil with mulch and then put my tools away. There's much less chance of overdoing it, and fifteen minutes every few days really adds up over the winter. However, don't completely stop cutting the grass. Use a higher setting and don't mow when it's been very wet. The garden will look much better with a mown lawn and neat edges.”
Focus on small areas and winter containers
Jean Vernon, the editor of Richard Jackson’s Garden – a gardening advice website – understands just what it takes to keep a garden growing throughout winter. Jean recommends that older people focus on one or two winter containers (which you can read more about on their website) and on small areas: “Gardening is such a wonderful hobby, allowing you to get out in the fresh air, keep active and exchange ideas with like-minded friends. It doesn’t matter whether you have a small plot with just a few containers or a larger garden, you can keep the garden interesting and inspiring right through the winter by focusing on smaller areas like the patio.
“If space and budget are limited then just plant up one container which you can see from the house or kitchen window. Or something to flank your front door. Choose a few winter interest plants and underplant with spring flowering bulbs so that you get a longer season of interest. Buy a poinsettia from a garden centre or nursery and keep in a warm, light spot out of draughts. Let the compost dry out slightly between waterings and feed weekly with Flower Power. It will be a festive focal point in the house when the weather is less conducive to gardening. If snow falls during winter, brush it off evergreen shrubs and conifers or the weight of the snow may ruin the shape and/or break the branches.”
Think of the wildlife that helps your garden
Sarah Brown from Garden Organic, a charity for organic growing, recommends that garden owners not forget to look after the wildlife that calls it home: “If you are planning to help your garden through the winter months, remember it’s not just plants that need looking after. Think of the wildlife that helps keep your growing area healthy. Aphid- eating ladybirds and hoverflies all need areas in which to hibernate, as do bees and butterfly larvae. And, if you’re lucky, your garden might be home to a slug eating hedgehog! So, don’t tidy up too much. Leave a patch of long grass, some twigs and branches, or piles of leaves – these are all nooks and corners which hibernators feel safe in. Remember to feed birds and provide them with fresh water when the icy weather comes.”
Accomplish simple tasks to keep your garden happy
Garden Organic’s Sarah also recommends a series of small steps that gardeners can tackle to help prepare their gardens for winter: “To get your garden ready for the dormant months here are some simple tasks:
- Gather up leaves and pack them into black plastic bags. They will rot down in a year or so to give you free, lovely dark leaf mould which is a perfect soil conditioner.
- Cover brassicas with netting to prevent pigeons eating your Christmas Brussel sprouts.
- Spike the lawn to help aerate the turf and prevent moss spreading.
- Clear herb plants of dead and decaying leaves – Mediterranean herbs can withstand cold, but not persistent damp.
- Make sure your greenhouse glass is clean, to allow maximum light in, and take out any dead or dying plants to prevent overwintering infection.
- And enjoy your fireside planning for next year’s planting!”
Take stock of your garden and plant spring bulbs
Thrive, a charity which uses gardening to bring positive change to the lives of the disabled, advises that people should take stock of their gardens to help plan for the seasons ahead: “This is a good time to take stock of your garden. You may decide to put in more plants, divide perennials and prune some shrubs, which should be carried out as soon as possible while the soil is still warm. Now is also the time to plant spring flowering bulbs. There are various types of bulb planters that can help with planting, including long-handled versions, which you can use while sitting down or to reduce bending.”
Concentrate on areas you can see from your window
Catherine Hughes, a home and garden lifestyle blogger from the blog Growing Family, is used to offering helpful gardening advice but her top tip for winter is to concentrate more on areas you can easily see, as this way you can still enjoy a beautiful garden: “You probably won’t be venturing out into the garden as much during winter, so it’s a good idea to focus your efforts on the areas you can see from your window. Containers are a great solution for this, as you can move them around easily until you have them just where you can see them best. Plant up a pot of winter flowering annuals such as pansies, cyclamen, viola and primroses, and they’ll flower for you right through to spring.”
How to keep your garden going throughout the winter:
- Clean up garden beds and protect non-annual plants
- Prepare your garden for winter in stages
- Focus on small areas and winter containers
- Think of the wildlife that helps your garden
- Accomplish simple tasks to keep your garden happy
- Take stock of your garden and plant spring bulbs
- Concentrate on areas you can see from your window
Tips for enjoying a winter holiday
Be aware of severe weather
One thing all travellers must be aware of when jetting off to a snowy or cold environment for a winter holiday is the weather. Of course, most of the time it should be absolutely fine, with warm clothes being the only thing one needs to remember. But if holidaying in a mountainous environment, travellers should be responsible and make themselves aware of any severe weather that could arise, taking the proper precautions if necessary. A safe holiday is a happy holiday!
Spain is the perfect winter holiday destination
For those looking for an ideal destination to travel to this winter, Spain will prove to be a top option. Molly from the Spanish travel and culture blog Piccavey, knows all about the delights of the country, and why it makes for such a great winter break: “Travelling to Spain in winter can be a good way to enjoy a popular destination at low season. Often popular beach locations can be too busy to be comfortable in during summer months but still have a good leisure offering during winter.
“Although temperatures are cooler in winter, the sunshine still often appears and it is also a good way to see more local people going about their daily lives. Some festivals in the winter months are also a good way to enjoy Spanish culture. In December, the 6th-8th sees the beginning of the festive period with lots of craft markets and nativity scenes set up. In February, Spain has lots of carnival celebrations in different places across the country coinciding with Mardi Gras.”
Visit the Canadian Rockies for a true winter holiday
Sue, from the travel and adventure blog Travel Tales of Life, recommends not trying to fight the colder weather and instead embrace all that’s wonderful about a winter holiday: “With the arrival of frigid temperatures and shrinking daylight hours, the onset of winter often marks the beginning of housebound hibernation for older adults. We suggest throwing off those cosy quilts and embracing the beauty of frosty paradise.
“Nestled in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the icy wonderland of Banff National Park is sure to warm the hearts of visitors with glorious snow-covered grandeur. While taking in traditional afternoon tea, guests gaze through massive windows to see a giant ice castle glistening on the frozen lake. With the Victoria Glacier providing the backdrop you will witness one of Canada’s most iconic settings. Still cosy and warm, winter memories will be of pristine peaks trimmed with evergreen forests. Winter never looked so marvellous.”
Don’t hesitate, set sail and enjoy a memorable holiday
When trying to arrange a holiday, there is a lot to take into account, but providing that you’ve done your research, there comes a time when you just have to go for it. This is the advice from Danielle Fear of the instructive cruising blog, Cruise Miss. She says: “If you’re thinking of heading off on a winter cruise holiday, my advice would be: stop thinking and go and do. There are thousands of people who head to warmer climates in the winter months, usually to escape the cold and dark UK evenings, but also because they often come across like-minded people who not only want to escape the damp weather, but that also want to enjoy the festive season at sea. It’s a chance to visit new places, meet new people and look forward to the prospect of a Christmas and New Year that’s crafted especially for them.”
Seek out the sun on a winter cruise
Image credit: Seabourn/Cruise Critic
Adam Coulter, the UK managing editor at Cruise Critic, is replete with fantastic tips for enjoying a winter holiday. His first, however, is to seek out that precious sun: “A cruise is a great way to get away from the short days and cold weather – especially for seniors who benefit greatly from a natural boost of Vitamin D from the warming sun.
“There are a number of destinations that promise respite from the typical UK winter. The Caribbean and Bahamas almost always guarantee you sunny climes. However, as winter is a popular time for a holiday break in both destinations, you'll also find high prices. If you’re on a budget, the best prices are available immediately after the New Year when most people are returning to work and getting back into the swing of things.”
Consider a Canary Islands cruise and sail from the UK
Adam also recommends that travellers consider the Canary Islands as the destination for their winter holiday: “For a winter-sun cruise closer-to-home, the Canary Islands are a perfect option. This archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean southwest of Spain is made up of seven islands: Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. January and February are good times to visit, as the islands are at their lushest after the rains. Many of the cruises to the Canaries leave directly out of Southampton, so travellers do not have to worry about travelling to and from airports, nor the possibility of having to experience delayed flights due to adverse weather conditions – a very real threat in the winter months.”
Always buy travel insurance
Cruise Critic’s Adam Coulter also recommends that winter holidaymakers always pick up travel insurance: “A missed connection, lost luggage, or a sudden illness can ruin a trip. Travel insurance can help mitigate costs when something does go wrong. It can reimburse you for trip cancellation, cover the cost of a medical evacuation in the event of an emergency, or simply give you access to a helpline if you need to rebook flights or hotel rooms.
“While we recommend that everyone purchases comprehensive travel insurance for major trips, it's especially useful for seniors who are more likely to have medical issues come up pre- or post-cruise or perhaps don't feel as comfortable making new arrangements on the fly if something goes wrong. Many medical and trip cancellation policies will cover you if you have a pre-existing condition. However, the insurance usually needs to be purchased within a specified time frame. Always buy travel insurance within a week of making the first payment toward a trip to get the maximum coverage. The smartest strategy is to discuss insurance needs with a qualified professional prior to booking a cruise.”
Don’t worry about travelling alone
Image credit: Cunard Line/Cruise Critic
Adam also says not to worry about travelling alone: “More over 50s are cruising alone and cruise lines are responding accordingly with increased options for solo travellers. These days single cruise adventurers can expect tailored activity programs, dedicated cocktail parties for mingling, and dining companions hand-picked for compatibility. There are also lots of opportunities to be sociable, with classes, seminars and shore excursions. Some cruise lines require passengers who have a disability to travel with a companion. To avoid disappointment, would-be solo travellers should consult with the cruise line's special needs department prior to making a reservation.”
Don’t go on a winter cruise without your medicine and first-aid
Adam Coulter from Cruise Critic also warns not to forget medicine and first-aid: “Pack over-the-counter medication you often use, as well as first-aid items, like Band-Aids. Also, always bring prescription medications from home – plus extra in case the trip is extended – and make sure they’re packed in your carry-on luggage, so you have them available as soon as you step foot onboard. You don't want to rely on the ship's pharmacy stocking your particular pills or pay out of pocket for an onboard refill. If you are travelling with medications that need refrigeration, check with the cruise line well in advance of sailing (30 to 60 days) to see what arrangements can be made, since not all mini fridges are cold enough to safely keep meds.”
Cruise to somewhere warm but not too hot
Emrys Thakkar, the founder of the inspirational and informative cruise blog, Cruise Hive, has advice for older cruisers who are not seeking boiling temperatures: “Taking a cruise during the winter months can be a special experience for older cruisers. Too much sun and heat, however, can be a concern in the Caribbean along with overcrowded cruise ports. A good option would be the Mediterranean as it’s less busy and the temperatures will go down slightly. The sunny days and fresh ocean air can still be just as good.”
A festive holiday will make for a memorable experience
Of course, winter and the joys of Christmas are intrinsically linked for many of us and some countries really go all out during this time of year. Emrys from Cruise Hive, therefore, suggests opting for a cruise to somewhere that really embraces the festive season as this can provide some wonderful benefits: “It may also be worth choosing a smaller luxury ship in Europe to visit those iconic Christmas markets, just think of all those arts and crafts that can be purchased! These type of cruises are not so active and the winter months are often cheaper too.”
When cruising, make sure to get your bearings early
Image credit: Saga Cruises/Cruise Critic
To help older cruisers become comfortable on board a ship, Adam says: “We recommend that mature travellers take a tour of the ship as soon as they get on board to get their bearings. It is advisable to book spa treatments and speciality dining experiences early, as these get booked up quickly. Another tip is to make sure you get acquainted with your cabin steward early on, so you can explain any particular services you might need or to raise any questions you have. Some cruisers like to tip the cabin steward as soon as they board to ensure a special service – though this is not really necessary.”
Choose shore tours you are able to do
Adam Coulter recommends that winter cruisers consider their limits: “Cruise lines offer organised shore excursions at every port. Just make sure your physical abilities are up to the tour's requirements. Typically, the cruise lines have a brochure or online information describing the various excursions at each destination, the duration of the activity and a symbol indicating the physical ability required for each excursion.
“Tour descriptions alert potential tour-goers to extended periods of walking or standing, uneven walking terrain and even activities that might not be suitable for passengers with pre-existing medical conditions. Don't overestimate your abilities, or you'll end up paying for a tour that you might not fully enjoy. In general, passengers who use wheelchairs or cannot walk up steps should discuss their needs with the cruise line's special needs department and/or the excursions department.”
Plan in advance if you require special assistance
Adam Coulter’s and Cruise Critic’s final piece of advice concerns those who require special assistance aboard a cruise: “Cruise ships provide a variety of assistance, services and accommodations for passengers with special requirements, but offerings vary from one cruise line to another and even from one ship to another in the same fleet. Passengers who have disabilities should consult with the cruise line before booking a trip to understand what options and rules apply to their situation. Just like with hotels, cruise ships offer a small number of accessible staterooms, so book early if you need one.
“If you have difficulties walking long distances but typically don't use a wheelchair, you still might consider renting a chair or scooter, and do your research on the best cabin location – because you’re able to book your exact cabin, be sure to select one at a prime location for any mobility issues. The cruise ship carries a limited number of wheelchairs, which are reserved for passengers who have a medical emergency. You can rent mobility aids, as well as oxygen and respiratory aids, from a provider like Special Needs at Sea.”
Preparation, preparation, preparation!
Sheila, a travel expert from the travel blog Golden Age Trips, is a treasure trove of advice for those looking to book a winter holiday. She emphasises the importance of doing your homework before embarking on your trip, and touches on the subject of travel insurance (well worth reiterating!), as well as offering other great tips:
“My main advice for those wanting to enjoy a winter holiday/vacation is to first make sure they have travel and medical insurance since the weather can be treacherous during this season. Snowstorms, slippery sidewalks, and colds abound so it's better to be prepared. Then, to research winter destinations, because there are places that close most of their stores, attractions, and restaurants during winter. Additionally, if you're going to a coveted vacation spot you need to book your accommodations and activities in advance. Finally, don't forget about taking with you the right winter weather clothes, because not being dressed appropriately can surely ruin your trip.”
Be aware of potential unknown dangers
Michele Peterson, travel blogger at A Taste For Travel, is no stranger to escaping the cold for a beach holiday and highlights the dangers of sargassum seaweed, something many people may not know about. Michele said: “The most important thing older people should do when planning a winter holiday to a beach destination is to research whether your destination is affected by an influx of sargassum seaweed. This is a serious issue throughout parts of the Caribbean, South America, and Mexico in 2018 and 2019.
“While sargassum seaweed in itself doesn’t pose a problem when it gathers in floating mats at the top of hot, shallow waters, it can host microbes and strains of bacteria the skin is not accustomed to coming in contact with. This can result in skin irritations and rashes. As well, when it gathers on beaches and begins decomposing it can release hydrogen sulfide gas, or H2S, a colourless, poisonous gas with an unpleasant rotten-egg odour. Inhaling small doses of the gas can trigger irritation of the eyes, respiratory issues and nausea, especially among at-risk people such as those with asthma, the elderly, and those with depressed immune systems.”
Tips for enjoying a winter holiday
- Be aware of severe weather
- Spain is the perfect winter holiday destination
- Visit the Canadian Rockies for a true winter holiday
- Don’t hesitate, set sail and enjoy a memorable holiday
- Seek out the sun on a winter cruise
- Consider a Canary Islands cruise and sail from the UK
- Always buy travel insurance
- Don’t worry about travelling alone
- Don’t go on a winter cruise without your medicine and first-aid
- Cruise to somewhere warm but not too hot
- A festive holiday will make for a memorable experience
- When cruising, make sure to get your bearings early
- Choose shore tours you are able to do
- Plan in advance if you require special assistance
- Preparation, preparation, preparation!
- Be aware of potential unknown dangers
With all of this fantastic advice being ready for winter will be a breeze. Whether you are looking to preserve your flowers beds, looking for some inspiration for activities to do with grandchildren or tips for a winter holiday, the ultimate winter toolkit for older people has it all. The great expert advice means the information is fantastic for stairlift users or anyone who is looking for a few top tips.
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This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.