As Clinical Chief Officer for NHS Leeds South and East, I meet lots of people on a daily basis. Whilst we have been enjoying our summer holidays and family barbecues, there is one sector of the community that often feels alone and vulnerable.
In Leeds there are almost 80,000 older people aged over 75, many of whom spend the majority of their time alone and lonely, sometimes with only a television for company.
Research carried out by the Mental Health Foundation in 2010 shows that while loneliness is a natural emotion that has played a part in human evolution, chronic loneliness can lead to serious physical and mental health problems.
Fortunately Leeds has local Neighbourhood Networks – community self-help groups run and used by older people.
They organise help with gardening, DIY, shopping, exercise, classes, housing and advice about all kinds of subjects.
For more information, call Leeds Directory 0113 391 8333 for guidance.
I remind older people that any activity is better than none – it’s never too late and you are never too old to be active. Eating well and being a healthy weight is really important too, so aim for three meals and two snacks a day.
And please don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids as keeping hydrated is really important.
Even though we have only just said goodbye to August, now is the time to start equipping yourself for winter. Get your winter wardrobe ready as wearing plenty of layers will keep you warmer and, make sure you have shoes or boots with non-slip soles.
Use room thermostats or heating controls to keep your home at the right temperature, 21°C or 70°F during the day and 18°C or 65°F in the bedroom.
Now is the time to make sure your heating is working properly, and get it fixed if needs be, before you really need it.
And remember, if you are over 65 you are eligible for a free flu jab, so make sure you get in touch with your GP in early autumn to arrange it.
where to go for help
To find your local neighbourhood network, go to http://leedsdirectory.org/ to search for activities and services in your area, or phone 0113 391 8333. Staff there can post out information to you if you don’t have internet access.
Age UK Leeds also supports the wellbeing of older people. Phone 0113 389 3000 for information.
Active Life is a range of activities just for older adults in Leeds City Council leisure centres. Visit www.leeds.gov.uk/sport for more details of what’s on.
Leeds Let’s Get Active supports inactive people to get active. Visit www.leedsletsgetactive.co.uk to register and discover more.
Go to www.leedsletschange.co.uk to find out what healthy living services are available across the city.
For repairs to heating systems, contact Care and Repair on 0113 3918336 or email email@example.com.
Green Doctor, which helps with providing basic energy efficiency measures, is on 0113 2380601 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel Good Factor Leeds promotes healthy and active lives for older people. Visit www.fgfleeds.org or call 0113 350 4200 for details.