Article date – 13 November 2018

Self-Care Week is an annual national awareness week that focuses on establishing support for self-care across communities and families.

The theme this year is ‘choose self-care for life’.

Helping people to look after their own health, and their family’s health, is an important part of us all staying well. This is especially so during winter. Cold weather can be very harmful for people age 65 or older as it weakens the immune system, increases blood pressure, thickens the blood and lowers body temperature, increasing risks of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.

For those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes or heart and kidney problems, cold weather and winter illnesses such as flu, can make health problems like these far worse.

There are several things that you can do to prepare for the cold weather and start your journey into Self-Care for life:

  • At the first sign of a cough or a cold get help from your pharmacist before it gets worse. Make sure you speak to your pharmacist about medicines you should have in stock to help you and your family through the winter season
  • If you do need help out-of-hours when your GP surgery or pharmacy is closed, call NHS 111 who will be able to provide advice or arrange for you to see the on call out of hours doctor if required
  • It is important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors as it can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F) if you can.

Dr Hilary Flett, local GP and St Helens CCG Governing Body member, said: “As the weather gets colder, this Self-Care awareness week, we’re encouraging people to understand how to self-care for the important people in their life by getting ready for winter.

“Pharmacies are a vital service in helping us all self-care for ourselves and our families and they can offer a wide range of services to help you get better quicker when common illnesses such as coughs and colds or stomach bugs strike.

“Also, remember the needs of friends, relatives and neighbours who could be at risk. Many people who are particularly vulnerable to the cold, older people, those with underlying health conditions, pregnant women and those with young children, are not aware that by not keeping warm they may be putting themselves in danger.”

St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Better Health, Councillor Gill Neal added: “Self-care is the most effective way to keep yourself and your family well at any time of the year but especially in winter, when the harsher conditions can put our bodies under more strain.

“Pharmacies are an invaluable resource for self-care, and many of us don’t make good use of their knowledge and support, instead waiting until an illness is severe enough warrant a trip to the GP or even hospital treatment, which increases the financial pressure on our health services.”


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