Looking after yourself

Personal Care

Dressing and undressing

If you find dressing difficult, there are a number of things you can try to remain independent with dressing. Choosing appropriate styles and fabrics, adapted clothing as well as using special techniques or equipment can all help to make dressing easier.

  • Skirts and trousers with elasticated waistbands are often easier to manage than those with fasteners
  • Loose fitting, stretchy clothing without fastenings, such as T-shirts, will often be easier to manage and eliminates the need to fasten buttons or zips
  • If choosing clothing with fasteners, make sure the fastener is easily accessible, such as being at the front
  • Magnetic or Velcro fasteners are usually easy to manage.
  • Clothes made from knitted or 'jersey' fabrics are often easier to manage than more stiff, woven fabrics
  • Smooth, slippery fabrics such as silk are usually easier to get on and off, as they glide easily over your skin or other layers of clothing
  • Zip fastenings can be quicker and easier than buttons, although open ended zips can be difficult to align and fasten if you have pain or stiffness in your fingers.
  • Extended tabs or loops can be added to zip tags to make them easier to grip and fasten

See our Equipment and adaptations information section for ideas and products which may help you.

Washing, showering and bathing

If you are having difficulty getting in and out of a bath, standing in or using a shower and standing at the basin, there are a few things that you can do yourself:

  • Put nonslip strips, mats or tiles in your tub and shower to help prevent falls. To combat tripping, secure any loose corners on mats.
  • Be sure to keep the tub clean to counteract slippery soap scum or mould.
  • Keep the bathroom floor dry, making sure it has no water on it. A weighted shower curtain will help ensure that no water leaks onto the floor.
  • Your bathroom should be adequately lit during the day and night.
  • Equip your shower with a handheld or adjustable shower head. You can manoeuvre it where you want it, minimizing your movement in the shower.
  • Put items you use regularly in easy reaching distance so you don't have to stand on steps, bath edges or move around a lot to reach them.
  • Take your time. The more you rush, the more likely you are to fall.

See our Equipment and adaptations information section for ideas and products which may help you. 

If you are unable to have a bath in your own home, there may be an assisted bathing facility or service near you. Assisted bathrooms are equipped so that people with mobility issues are able to enjoy a bath in a safe, relaxing and homely environment. Age Concern Hampshire keeps a list of assisted bathing services in Hampshire.

Using the toilet

Toileting is a function that most people take for granted and if assistance is required it can cause distress.

Here are some things you can try:

  • Make sure the way to the toilet and the room is well lit at night.
  • Consider if a special frame, rails or a higher seat would be best to help you get on and off the toilet.
  • Never use a walking frame to hold onto whilst standing from a toilet, as it is not designed for this purpose and could easily tip over.
  • Talk to your GP about any continence issues.

See our Equipment and adaptations information section for ideas and products which may help you. 

Care agencies and personal assistants

See our section on Buying help at home for information about paying for help with your personal care in your own home.

If you need someone else to assist you with your personal care, you may be eligible for help  from Hampshire County Council’s Adult Services department. You may have to pay for some or all of any care which is arranged.

Keeping warm in winter

Keeping warm helps prevent conditions such as hypothermia, bronchitis, chest infections and pneumonia. Those at particular risk include vulnerable people, such as the elderly, families on low income and people with long term medical conditions.

Helping yourself

  • Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F).
  • If you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and your bedroom just before you go to bed
  • Get your heating system and cooking appliances checked and keep your home well ventilated
  • Use your electric blanket as instructed and get it tested every three years. Never use a hot water bottle with an electric blanket
  • Do not use a gas cooker or oven to heat your home; it is inefficient and there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and this can kill
  • If you are not on mains gas or electricity, make sure you have a good supply of heating oil, solid fuel, or LPG to make sure you do not run out in winter
  • Fit draught proofing to seal any gaps around windows and doors
  • Make sure you have loft insulation. And if you have cavity walls, make sure they are insulated too
  • Insulate your hot water cylinder and pipes
  • Draw your curtains at dusk to help keep heat generated inside your rooms
  • Make sure your radiators are not obstructed by furniture or curtains
  • If possible, try to move around at least once an hour. But remember to speak to your GP before starting any exercise plans
  • Wear lots of thin layers: clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres are particularly good and maintain body heat

Further advice:

 Financial help with heating costs

If you are struggling with your winter fuel costs speak to your energy provider, who should be able to offer you a standard monthly direct debit charge to enable you to spread the cost of your energy over the year with fixed regular payments.

Most people aged 62 and over qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment made every November to December.

You may also be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment  for each week of very cold weather in your area if you certain benefits.

You might be able to get help for energy-saving improvements to your home, under the  Affordable Warmth scheme, if you’re on certain benefits and own or privately rent your home.

Priority Services Register

If you are a pensioner, have a disability, are chronically sick or are hearing and/or visually impaired, your energy provider has an obligation to provide a range of free services, designed to make your life easier. You should contact your provider to find out what is available.

More information is available about the Priority Services Register from the Citizens Advice Bureau.


Healthy eating and nutrition

Good food is essential for good health, whatever age you are. Eating a balanced diet will not only keep you healthy but also reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

Age UK have produced a Healthy eating guide which can be printed off. You can also find out more about healthy eating on the NHS website  and visit change4life  to get ideas aimed at helping you to lead a healthier life.

Losing weight is not a natural part of getting older and undernutrition can lead to illness. If you, or someone you are caring for, is losing weight and you are concerned, you should speak to your GP. Your local pharmacist may also be able to give you some advice.

BAPEN have developed a simple online self-screening tool you can use along with advice to follow if you are at risk of becoming malnourished. They also have information and advice about nutrition including a printable  Guide to making the most of your food with simple tips on how to get the most nutrition from the food you are eating.

Meals delivery services                                                                      

If you find it difficult to get out to do your own food shopping, most of the major supermarkets will now deliver to your door. You can order your food online and pick a delivery slot.                                                                 

There are a number of meal delivery services or restaurants who will deliver fresh or frozen meals to your door. You can search for meals delivery services in the Home Services directory Elderly Accommodation Counsel website or call their advice line on 0800 377 7070.

Meals on wheels service    

If you live in the Hampshire County Council area, you can choose to receive Meals on Wheels, through a service organised by the Council, if you are aged over 55 or you have certain needs.

For more information, visit the Meals on Wheels web page.

Preventing falls

Falls are not a normal part of getting older, they are a sign of an underlying problem and you should always speak to your doctor or a health professional if you are having frequent falls.

Read more information about preventing falls as well as other health and wellbeing advice.

Last reviewed: 21/04/2016