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3.5m older people don’t get help from neighbours

Published on 15 November 2012 12:01 AM

Age UK and Dame Helen Mirren call on the nation to come together to prevent older people suffering needlessly this winter, and support Age UK's Spread the Warmth winter campaign.


3.5 million people aged 65+ in the UK are not getting any help, support or companionship from neighbours, according to new research out today to mark the launch of Age UK's Spread the Warmth winter campaign.

The new research also reveals that over 700,000 (7%) older people in the UK don't even know their neighbours. The top reasons holding older people back from getting to know those who live nearby include not wanting to be a burden and thinking that their neighbours always seem to be busy.

The same number of older people (over 700,000) older people report that they always or often feel lonely with over half of all older people considering the TV as their main form of company.

25,000 older people could die needlessly this winter

The colder weather brings with it a massive increase in associated health problems for older people including heart attacks, strokes, respiratory problems, pneumonia and depression.

This winter as many as 25,000 older people could die needlessly because of the cold. That's around 200 preventable deaths a day.

During the winter, isolation can also intensify having an adverse effect on physical and mental well-being; some studies prove that feelings of loneliness can can be equivalent to well-established risk factors such as obesity and smoking.

Age UK's research reveals that:

  • over 3.5 million (35%) people aged 65+ are concerned about staying warm at home
  • as the cold weather and shorter days kick in, people find it more difficult to get out and about, with nearly 4.5 million (43%) people aged 65+ concerned about falling over on slippery pavements
  • just over 2 million (21%) state they are worried about not being able to get out and about as much

Let's pledge to Spread the Warmth this winter

But if everyone acts now, this winter can be very different for older people. Which is why Age UK is calling on everyone to remember the Great British spirit celebrated in the summer, and pledge to help older people in their local community throughout the winter months.

Simply make a Big Winter Pledge with Age UK and help make sure older people living near you aren't suffering needlessly this winter:

  • Pledge 1: Pop in and see an older friend, relative or neighbour regularly
  • Pledge 2: Do your bit to help out when the colder weather arrives - from clearing paths to getting the shopping done for an older neighbour
  • Pledge 3: Donate money to Age UK today by calling 0800 169 87 87 or visiting - just £10 could fund an emergency winter warmth pack
  • Pledge 4: Get a free thermometer and ‘Winter Wrapped Up' advice guideopens link in new window from Age UK by calling 0800 169 65 65 and pass on to an older friend, neighbour or relative
  • Pledge 5: Volunteer for Age UK and local Age UKs across the country -  Contact your local Age UK for more information or call 0800 169 87 87

And you can also Spread the Warmth by by tweeting using #spreadthewarmth or by posting on the Age UK Facebook page to explain how you are committing to help older people this winter.

Get involved with Spread the Warmth

How Age UK is helping

During the Spread the Warmth campaign, Age UK and its local and national partners are working to keep older people warm and well. We are providing social activities and contact for older people, as well as tips on combating the cold at home and outdoors.

Age UK will be keeping people warm and safe at home, giving out hot nutritious meals and offering information and advice 365 days a year. We are also calling on the Government to boost the energy efficiency of older people's homes.

There's something simple everyone can do to help

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK, commented: 'The winter can cause misery, avoidable illness and even death for too many older people. We're hoping to inspire everyone to act now to do their bit to lessen the impact of winter for older people this year.

'There is something simple that everyone can do from popping in to check on an older neighbour to making time for older relatives. As we experienced as a nation this summer, it feels good to come together and help each other out. Small things and a friendly face make all the difference.'

Classic British actress Dame Helen Mirren said: 'It's shocking that so many older people die needlessly in the winter months. I'm supporting Age UK's Big Winter Pledge by spreading the word about the importance of keeping warm this winter - whether that's layering up when we go out or keeping our living rooms at 21 degrees and bedrooms at 18 degrees. I'd urge everyone to get stuck in this winter and help out older friends, neighbours and relatives with Age UK.'


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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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