Keeping well this winter

Cold weather, ice and seasonal illnesses can cause more complications for people with Parkinson's. Here's our advice on managing in colder weather.

Keep yourself and your house warm

Parkinson's affects the nervous system, which controls body temperature, so people with Parkinson's can be more sensitive to heat and cold.

There are a few simple things you can do to help keep your body temperature up:

  • Wrap up warm inside and outside the house.
  • Wear plenty of thin layers, rather than one thick one, and wear cotton, wool or fleecy synthetic fibres.
  • Wear a hat and bed socks in bed if you get cold at night.
  • Heat all the rooms you spend the day in. Or if you can't keep all the rooms heated, try and keep one room heated for the day and your bedroom heated just before you go to bed.
  • Set your heating to come on just before you get up, and to turn off after you go to bed.

There are grants that can contribute to energy bills and help keep your home warm in winter. Read more about Cold Winter Payment, Warm House Discount and the Winter Fuel Payment.

Ensure you have enough medicine

Talk to your GP and pharmacist to ensure you have enough medication to last you through any periods of severe weather.

You are now able to order repeat prescriptions online using services such as the NHS App or the NHS website’s repeat prescription service. Your prescriptions are then sent directly to a pharmacy of your choice. This means you do not have to go out in cold weather to collect a paper prescription from your GP surgery. Read more about ordering prescriptions online.    

Many pharmacies offer a home delivery service for prescriptions. You should ask your pharmacist for more information about the services they provide.

Keeping active

During winter, you may be inside more, but staying active is still important for your physical and mental wellbeing. Moving about and getting some light exercise can also help you to keep warm.

From chair-based aerobics to balance exercises, we have bought together a range of video workouts you can do from the comfort of your own home.

Risk of falls

Loss of balance and falling affects many people with Parkinson’s. You should take extra care in winter if you do have to go out in icy conditions. To stay safe:

  • Wear shoes with low heels or flat, rubber soles as these provide better traction on ice and snow. Take your shoes off as soon as you get home - snow and ice can stick to your soles and cause slippery conditions as they melt.
  • If you use a walking stick, check for wear and tear. If the tip of the stick (the ferrule) becomes worn, it should be replaced. Your local physiotherapy department can do this for you. 
  • Think about what route you will take to your destination and allow extra time to get there.
  • Be aware of your surroundings - some places can stay icy for longer.
  • Use handrails for support where you can.
  • Don’t be afraid of asking for help walking outside if you need it. 

If you know someone who has Parkinson's

If your friend, relative or neighbour has Parkinson's, it's especially important to check on them regularly during winter. Older people are particularly vulnerable at this time of year.

Think about arranging to visit, or call or text your loved one regularly. It can give you both peace of mind. There are other ways you can help if you are local - you could offer to do someone’s shopping for example, or clear their pathway if it has snowed or is icy.

If you're feeling unwell

Call the non-emergency NHS helpline for advice if you start feeling unwell. 

  • 111 if you live in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, or the following areas in Wales: Hywel Dda, Powys, Aneurin Bevan and Swansea Bay (including Bridgend).
  • 0845 4647 (NHS Direct) if you live in other parts of Wales.

Coronavirus

For people with Parkinson’s, there's no increased risk of catching coronavirus. Read more about Parkinson's and coronavirus. The advice for people with Parkinson's is the same as for the general population. The GOV.UK website has current information and guidance.

Free flu jabs

  • Anyone in England and Wales who is over 50 can get a free flu vaccine. 
  • In Wales, anyone with Parkinson's is eligible for a free flu vaccine.
  • In Scotland and Northern Ireland, free flu jabs are being prioritised for people at highest risk, including those with some health conditions and people aged over 65.

If you’re not included in these groups, but are living with Parkinson’s or care for someone with Parkinson’s, you may still be eligible for a free flu vaccine. Contact your local GP surgery, or local pharmacy offering the service, for more information. 

The vaccination reduces your chance of getting the flu, or can make the illness milder and shorter-lived. Vaccinations are in high demand this year, so allow time to schedule yours.

Every day life with Parkinson's

From diet and exercise to equipment and living aids, there are lots of things you can do to feel in control of daily life.