Older people’s charity issues cold snap warning

Being-winter-wise

~ Independent Age Winter Wise leaflet can help older people ~

As the Met Office issues a level-2 cold weather alert, older people’s charity, Independent Age, has issued a warning to older people, their families and carers to take extra care during this week’s cold snap. It’s also providing a free advice leaflet on how to stay well in winter, called Being Winter Wise.

Last year, the ONS found that an estimated 36,300 excess winter deaths occurred in England and Wales in 2014/15 among people aged 75 and over1. In addition to this, according to a poll published by Independent Age last month2, an estimated 752,000 older people have had to choose between paying for food and paying for heating and almost half (43%) of those aged 65 and over say they have gone to bed early to stay warm at least once.

Being cold can be very bad for your health. Many people don’t realise that low temperatures can not only increase the risk of flu, but also the risk of heart attack or stroke. The Independent Age survey also found that just over one-third (36%) of over-65s do not heat their home adequately some, most, or all of the time in winter because of worry about paying fuel bills and one in 17 (6%) heat only one room or no rooms at all in winter, equivalent to an estimated 700,000 people who are putting themselves at greater risk of these health problems.

Older people can be more susceptible to fuel poverty as they may find they have to heat their homes for longer due to health and mobility problems and the need to stay indoors for longer. Around 1.6 million older people live in poverty, 900,000 of whom live in severe poverty.

To help older people, their families and carers navigate the cold snap, Independent Age has brought out a free advice leaflet called Being Winter Wise. It provides practical advice and tips on how to look after yourself during the coldest months.

The advice spans from eating well and staying healthy to keeping your home warm and making winter more affordable.

Lucy Harmer, Director of Services at Independent Age, said,

“Winter can be a testing time for many elderly people if they don’t have enough social, financial or emotional support in place. We would urge older people, their families and carers to take extra care during the cold snap. The government, councils and individuals all need to take more responsibility for ensuring older people are getting the support they need in winter. However, there are also some practical actions that can be taken to help keep your home warm and stay healthy during the winter months. More advice on how to cope during the winter months is available in our free Being Winter Wise leaflet.”

Being Winter Wise is free to order and download from independentage.org or call 0800 319 6789 to order a leaflet.