The five biggest winter health risks on the rise in 2023: from falls to diabetes, Lottie’s new research has identified the 5 biggest health warnings set to place millions at risk over the winter months – and this follows data from the ONS revealing the nation’s health is on the decline.
With the temperature dropping across the UK, and the winter months fast approaching, we all need to take extra care to stay safe. Extreme weather poses a risk to anyone’s health, but those most vulnerable – including older generations – can be severely impacted.
Ageing is a natural part of life. However, as you age you become more susceptible to certain health conditions – including diabetes and heart conditions – which can be exacerbated in the winter season.
New research from Lottie (a later living marketplace) has analysed Public Health data, to reveal the biggest winter health risks for older adults – with the risk of falls, heart problems and mental health concerns increasing with age:
Will Donnelly, Care Expert and Co-Founder at Lottie, shares: “Basing our insights on Public Health data, we’ve been able to analyse a number of health concerns (osteoporosis, heart health, mental wellbeing and diabetes), to identify the top health risks to older adults across the UK.
It’s concerning to see, our research has revealed a surge in adults across the UK experiencing health worries, with the risk of falls, fractures, heart problems and a decline in overall wellbeing increasing over the last decade.
As the temperatures across the country begin to drop – more older adults are at greater risk of experiencing health concerns. So, it’s more important than ever before that the government ensures health services available across the UK are appropriately supported and funded to focus on elevating later living. Especially as we face a cost of living and energy crisis, those more vulnerable in society are in greater need of support than ever before.
For too long the eldercare sector has been underfunded and the rising cost of living will only place greater strain on the healthcare system. The Government needs to act fast. Providing practical and financial support to health services across the country.
Growing older isn’t just about living longer – it’s about living healthier and happier for longer.”
Here are the 5 biggest health risks to the elderly, according to Lottie’s new research:
Osteoporosis is a health condition that causes bones to weaken and increases the risk of injuries such as, broken bones and fractures – especially to the wrist and hips.
Lottie’s research has revealed the number of adults over 50 living with osteoporosis has surged by 250% in the last decade. At the same time the number of hospital admissions for older adults (75 and over) with hip fractures has increased by 4%.
As osteoporosis develops slowly, it is often only diagnosed once a person has experienced a broken bone or fracture. However, with the number of people living with osteoporosis increasing across the country, a wider focus needs to be placed on the education, prevention, and treatment of osteoporosis.
Gentle weight bearing and resistance exercises are important in improving bone density and decreasing your risk of osteoporosis. Brisk walking, or a gentle exercise programme using your body weight can all improve your bone and muscle strength as you age.
A calcium rich diet is important for maintaining bone health. Try to incorporate calcium-high foods such as yogurt, dried fruit, and leafy green vegetables into your meals.
2. Increased risk of falls
Based on analysis of Public Health data, Lottie’s research has found that elderly falls are on the rise – with the number of older adults (over 65) needing hospital treatment for falls increasing by 15% over the last 10 years.
Similarly, there has been a substantial increase in older adults turning to Google for fall prevention support over the last 12 months, with the number of elderly falls on the rise:
- 950% increase in online searches for ‘fall alarm elderly NHS’
- 250% increase in online searches for ‘fall pendant for elderly’
Fall prevention and good balance are becoming increasingly important for older adults. Though most falls don’t cause serious injuries, they can leave you feeling unsettled and less confident to move around independently.
From keeping your home clutter free, brightening your living space and using mobility aids, such as rails and handlebars, you can stay steady on your feet and reduce your risk of falls.
Other factors such as medication can increase your risk of falls as you age. This is because some medicines can impact your balance or cause you to feel dizzy or faint. If you experience side effects like these after taking any medication, it’s important they speak to their doctor – they may need to check the dose or look at alternatives.
3. Type 2 diabetes
Diabetes is a health condition, where your body becomes unable to regulate your blood sugar levels. There are two types of diabetes – type 1 and type2.
In the UK 15% of older adults (aged 80 and over) are living with type 2 diabetes – our research has revealed this is an increase of just over 9% in the last 5 years.
Analysis of online search behaviour has shown that older adults are becoming more aware of the health risk of type 2 diabetes. With online searches for type 2 diabetes symptoms surging over the last 12 months:
800% increase in online searches for ‘diabetes symptoms in old age’
200% increase in online searches for ‘type 2 diabetes symptoms elderly’
If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to other complications such as damage to your eyes, heart, and feet.
As we age it’s important to lead a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet and stay active to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Try to eat 3 regular meals a day and incorporate healthy snack options into your lifestyle. For example, dairy (cheese, milk, and eggs), oily fish high in omega-3 and fruits and vegetables are all good options to maintain a balanced diet.
Regular exercise helps to improve your overall fitness levels and regulate insulin sensitivity.
4. Heart conditions
In the UK cardiovascular disease is on the rise and your risk of experiencing heart problems increases with age.
Lottie’s research has found heart problems are prevalent in older adults – with a 7% increase in adults over 75 experiencing a cardiovascular health concern (heart attack, stroke, and abnormal heart rhythm) over the last decade.
As you age your heart and blood vessels can stiffen – which increases your risk of experiencing cardiovascular problems, so it’s more important than ever before to prioritise your heart health.
High blood pressure and cholesterol levels can increase your risk of heart conditions. So, it’s important to ‘know your numbers’, keep track of your blood pressure and cholesterol and if you notice any changes – speak to your doctor.
Leading a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of heart problems as you age. For example, quitting smoking, reducing your alcohol intake, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly all promote good heart health.
5. Mental health concerns and loneliness
Loneliness is a major concern for the elderly and can lead to mental health conditions such as depression. Lottie’s research has revealed mental health and wellbeing declines with age.
Our research has found over the last 5 years the number of older adults (65 and over) seeking professional mental health support for mental health worries such as anxiety, depression and stress has increased by 7%.
Similarly, there has been a surge in elderly mental health support and advice online over the last 12 months:
- 367% increase in online searches for ‘social isolation elderly’
- 350% increase in online searches for ‘elderly loneliness solutions’
- 200% increase in online searches for ‘mental health support for elderly’
Living alone and poor social connections increase your risk of experiencing loneliness. Unfortunately, many older people are at risk of feeling isolated – especially as we approach the winter months.
With the cost-of-living crisis, there is further worry that older generations are at risk of increased social isolation, loneliness, and mental health concerns, so it’s more important than ever to check in on elderly loved ones and neighbours.
From talking to an elderly loved one about their feelings and offering emotional and practical support, you can help them to prioritise their wellbeing.
Encouraging your loved one to join local clubs and groups is a great way to increase their social interaction and make new friends – reducing any feelings of isolation. From walking clubs and coffee mornings – there are lots of ways to boost your social life as you age.