Skip to content
Please donate

Looking after your health and wellbeing during the cost of living crisis

With the costs of living rising, many of us are making changes to try to save money. But some of these changes could put our health at risk. We've outlined some information to help you stay well as costs rise. 

Facing difficult decisions

Our survey asked people how they're managing with rising costs. We heard from thousands of older people, many of whom told us about some of the difficult decisions they're facing as costs rise – decisions that could have a negative impact on their health. 

Prioritising your medication

Many of us take medication to stay healthy and manage existing health conditions. It's important to continue to prioritise your health needs.

Sometimes I don't take my painkillers or eye drops because they're too expensive. I cannot afford them. 

Survey respondent

Keep taking your medication

Your medication is important and you should continue to prioritise it. It's not something you should cut back on or use as a way to save some money as other costs rise. If you're over 60 years old, your NHS prescriptions should be free

Staying warm during colder weather

Many of us may be trying to cut back on our heating costs during the cost of living crisis, but finding ways to stay warm is vital to staying well, particularly as the weather gets colder. 

I plan to manage without heating or hot water.

Survey respondent

Wear multiple layers around the house

Wearing multiple layers can keep you warmer than wearing one thick layer as warmth gets trapped between each layer. 

If you're worried about your energy usage, it's important to stay wrapped up around the house as the cold can have an impact on your health. 

But there are ways to help you afford your bills so you can use the energy you need to keep you and your home warm.

Keep moving and try not to sit or lie down for a long time 

There are lots of reasons you may decide to stay sitting for longer or lie in bed to try and stay warm, but this can have an impact on your health. If you can it's a good idea to move more. Depending on your health, this may mean doing some gentle chair exercises or stretching. 

Moving your body gets your blood pumping, helps with your mobility and balance and keeps your body warm.  

Thinking about your diet and cooking

Changing how we cook and adapting our shopping lists is one way to save money, but only if this doesn't put our health at risk. Our diet, including how much we eat, is an important part of staying healthy and well.

I'll be buying less healthy food that uses less energy to prepare. 

Survey respondent

Batch cook food

Cooking food in batches and eating or freezing leftovers is a great idea to help keep food costs down without it having an impact on your health.

Batch cooking can save you money because you're buying ingredients in bulk rather than buying smaller amounts more often. It also means you can cook things once and then use less energy to reheat things you've already cooked.

Buy frozen fruit and vegetables

Fresh fruit and vegetables can be expensive and don't always last as long, so it can be easy to avoid buying them. But it's important that you're still getting enough nutrients in your diet.

Fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins and minerals, but it's usually cheaper to buy frozen fruit and vegetables and they're just as good for you.

Make sure you're still having hot food and drinks 

Even though you use energy to make hot food and drinks, it's a good idea to make sure you're still getting these in your diet when the weather's colder. 

Consider using different equipment in the kitchen

Heating up foods in the microwave where possible can be more cost-effective than using the hobs or the oven.

Other kitchen equipment like air fryers and slow cookers can also be a good investment because they often use less energy than ovens. 

Your health and your energy bills

Many of us are trying to cut back on energy costs at the moment, but it's important that you're not putting your financial concerns above your health. 

I don't put the lights on so I'm living in the dark in the evenings. It's going to be a very challenging winter. 

Survey respondent

Keep important electricals switched on

While it's a good idea to turn off electrical appliances that you don't use, you shouldn't turn off important electrical appliances, like your fridge.

If your fridge is switched off, you risk your food going off and not being safe to eat anymore. 

Keep your lights on in the room you're using

It's a good idea to switch off the lights when you leave a room, but you shouldn't leave all your lights off throughout the day. Poor lighting is unsafe and can lead to trips and falls. 

Keep windows and doors closed to keep the cold out

Staying warm is an important part of staying healthy. By keeping your windows and doors closed, you stop heat from escaping and keep the cold out, particularly in the rooms where the heating is on. 

Try taking a shower instead of a bath or having shorter showers

If you're able to, having showers instead of baths might be a way to save you money. Using less hot water could not only save you money on your water bills, but could also help you save money on your energy bills, too.

However, it's important that you only make this change if you feel able to. For example, it isn't a good idea to take a shower instead of a bath if you have mobility issues that make baths much easier than showers. 

Looking after your mental wellbeing

Winter can be a difficult time but if you're worried and anxious about costs rising, you're not alone. It's important to look after your mental wellbeing – it's just as important as your physical wellbeing.

Winter brings more loneliness. This could be my worst winter yet.

Survey respondent

Reach out to those around you 

Many of us will be worrying about how we're going to manage during the cost of living crisis. If you are, try to reach out to someone close to you – they may be feeling the same and be glad to chat about it.

If you're consistently feeling low or out of sorts and no longer have the energy or enthusiasm to do the things that you usually enjoy, then you should speak to a healthcare professional. Further support and guidance are available in our information guide, Your mind matters

Check if you're entitled to help with broadband and phone costs

Technology is a great way to stay connected with people and lift our spirits, particularly over the winter months.

Some broadband and phone companies offer cheaper packages known as 'social tariffs' for people claiming Universal Credit or Pension Credit.

For more information visit the Ofcom website

Consider using public transport instead of your car 

If you drive and you're worried about the costs of running your car, don't let this keep you from going out and doing the things you enjoy.

Public transport is cheaper and can allow you to do your shopping and see friends and family independently. You may be entitled to public transport concessions.  

Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local Age UKs.

The quotes from older people come from an Age UK online survey open 4-27th October 2022. Answers to this survey were submitted anonymously. 

Share this page

Last updated: Apr 08 2024

You might also be interested in...

Look after each other

In winter, it’s really important we keep an eye on the people in our lives who might need a little extra support.

Walking tips

When you find exercise difficult or aren't sure how to be more active, walking is a great activity.

Keep your spirits up

It's not unusual to feel a bit blue in the winter months. Here are some simple steps to keep your spirits up.

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top