Doctors across South West Essex are urging people to make sure elderly family members, neighbours and themselves are stocked-up with medicines and supplies whenever weather forecasters predict unsettled weather and cold snaps.
Dr Arv Guniyangodage, Chair of NHS Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Having basic provisions in the house just in case the weather takes a turn for the worst is a quick job that can make life much easier, especially if you are elderly or live in a rural area.
“We know the older people are the less of an appetite they have. There may be a number of reasons for this. In some cases, it’s as simple as badly fitting dentures or poor eyesight which puts them off buying and preparing food. Loneliness can play a part, as can monotonous meals. But nutritious food and plenty of warm drinks help people stay warm and well. That’s why it’s really important to have a well-stocked food cupboard with plenty of choice.”
“We would encourage everyone to make sure they don’t have to go out in bad weather unless they really have to, and to keep an eye on elderly neighbours and relatives.”
It’s also important to keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet for minor illnesses alongside any regular medication taken.
A fully stocked first-aid kit should include bandages, plasters, thermometer, antiseptic, eyewash solution, sterile dressings, medical tape for dressings and tweezers.
Pain relief such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen are good for aches, pains and high temperatures.
Oral rehydration salts help after a fever, diarrhoea and vomiting to replace lost minerals and fluid.
Anti-diarrhoea tablets relief symptoms of diarrhoea, but they will not help with the underlying cause.
If you’re already on prescribed medication, make sure you’re not going to run out but only order the medicines you need. GP practices now offer a service called Patient Online where patients can register to request repeat prescriptions online as well as book appointments and see some of their health records. Patients simply need to go into their practice and complete a form.
Those with long term conditions, who are not sure which over the counter medicines to take with their regular medication, should talk to a pharmacist.
Dr Guniyangodage added: “If you are staying in because the weather is bad it’s important to keep active and mobile. Make sure the home is warm, at least 18c. That as well as nutritious food and the right medication will help you stay well over winter.”
For more information on visit www.nhs.uk/staywell