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 House 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 House 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 House information section for ideas and products which may help you. 

For support and advice about incontinence, see our Health and wellbeing advice.

Care agencies and personal assistants

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

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.
Residents considering solar panels for their homes can sign-up to generate greener energy and reduce their energy bills through the Solar Together Hampshire offer.

Further advice:

Guidance videos:

 Advice and financial assistance

  • If you are struggling to keep your home warm,  and live in the Hampshire County Council area, visit the Hitting the Cold Spots web page or call the advice line on 0800 804 8601. The friendly Hampshire-based team will be able to provide a range of advice and assistance including one-off emergency fuel vouchers for pre-payment meters for people who meet certain eligibility criteria.
          -Information for Portsmouth residents.
          -Information for Southampton residents

           - How do I know if I’m in fuel poverty
           - Paying for energy 
           - Maximising income
           - How to switch supplier 
           - How to stay safe at home 

    You can find more information, if you are struggling financially, on our Money Worries page.

    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. 

    Warm spaces

    • Hampshire County Council is making the most of the county’s library network by offering warm and welcoming spaces for anyone needing a place to spend some time, connect with others, or to work or study.

      Hampshire Libraries offer a range of free or low-cost resources, events, activities and learning opportunities, and provides a safe and inclusive community space for everyone, with access to free WiFi. 

      Some libraries also have special tables - with a quiz, game or puzzle - where you can sit if you want to have a chat with someone. You can bring cold food, snacks and drinks into the library too.

    • You can also find details about other warm spaces near you in Hampshire from the Warm Welcome website. Warm Welcome is a national initiative that helps organisations open their doors and provide a welcoming warm space for those struggling to heat their homes this winter.

    Staying safe in Summer

    When the weather is very hot there are risks to health, particularly for those who have a long term health condition, those on multiple medications and those over 65 or the very young.

    Helping yourself

    • Keep out of the heat if you can. If you have to go outside stay in the shade especially between 11am and 3pm, wear sunscreen, a hat and light clothes.
    • Avoid exercise or activities that make you hotter
    • Keep yourself cool by having cold drinks and food, and put cold water on your skin or clothes.
    • Keep the windows and curtains closed in rooms that face the sun and open them at night when the temperature has gone down.
    More information about how to cope in hot weather is available from the NHS.

    It's important to stay hydrated, particularly during hot weather. See more information about staying hydrated on our health and wellbeing pages.


    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. See our information on Eating well and staying hydrated.

    Meals on wheels service    

    Meals on wheels services are offered by your local authority, subject to certain eligibility criteria:

    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 top tips for staying independent.