Older people concerned about staying warm at home
Published on 28 October 2013 12:30 AM
Over three million people aged 65 and over in the UK are concerned about staying warm in their own home this winter with nearly six million also citing worries about the increasing cost of energy bills(1). This is according to new research(2) out today to mark the launch of Age UK's Spread the Warmth winter campaign.
The winter can be harrowingly difficult for thousands of older people with the ever increasing cost of energy bills adding to worries about being able to keep warm and well this winter. Cold temperatures can be very dangerous to older people's health as they not only increase the likelihood and severity of flu, chest infections and other respiratory problems but they also raise blood pressure which puts people at greater risk of heart attacks and strokes.
This winter 24,000 older people may not survive the cold weather - that's 200 deaths a day that could be prevented(3). Contrary to public belief, about half (41%) of all excess winter deaths are due to heart attack and strokes(4).
Age UK's new research(5) reveals that whilst many older people are worried about staying warm at home, many are unaware of the severe health implications of being cold. Almost a quarter (22%) of older people don't realise that a number of serious health problems are made worse or brought on by the cold and this rose to 29 per cent amongst people aged 80 and over. Less than one in 10 people aged 65 and over in the UK(6) are aware that strokes can be brought on by the cold in winter, with only 14 per cent recognising that the cold can impact on heart attacks.
There are a number of reasons for cold related illness and mortality from poorly insulated homes to sustained low indoor temperatures(7). Living room temperatures should ideally be kept at 70F (21C) and above whereas bedroom temperatures should be kept at a minimum of 64F (18C).(8) However, Age UK's research(9) shows that over 80% of older people didn't know the ideal living room and bedroom temperatures.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK, said: 'It's vital for older people to keep warm, both inside and outside their homes in the winter months. Being cold, even for just a short amount of time can be very dangerous as it increases the risk of associated health problems and preventable deaths during the winter.
'Through our Spread the Warmth campaign, we are calling on everyone to recognise the importance of staying warm and well this winter and to think about older friends, neighbours and relatives as the temperature drops. Local Age UKs are providing range of services across the winter months and anyone with concerns can also call Age UK Advice free on 0800 169 65 65.'
During the Spread the Warmth campaign, Age UK and its local and national partners are working hard to help older people keep warm and well throughout the winter in a number of ways, including through winter benefit checks and handyperson services. They are providing hot nutritious meals at local lunch clubs as well as home visits and friendly telephone calls through befriending services for those who may feel isolated. Age UK also offers information and advice 365 days a year and older people and their families can call Age UK Advice free on 0800 169 65 65, where they can also order a free copy of Age UK's ‘Winter Wrapped Up' guide with a free thermometer.
Age UK is urging older people and their friends and family to be prepared this winter and it's also calling on MPs of all parties to support investment to boost the energy efficiency of older people's homes and help them keep warm. The Charity is calling on people to help them spread the warmth this winter by joining its campaign to tell MPs about the need for warm homes or making a donation by calling 0800 169 87 87, visiting http://www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk/ or donating £5 by texting WARMTH to 70004.
Notes to editors
Media contact: Sarah Scott
Tel: 020 3033 1434
Out of hours: 07071 243 243
For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.
Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life.
We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to well over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI and our local Age UK partners in England (together the Age UK Family). We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.
Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we"). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).
The survey results are from the TNS Winter Omnibus Survey for Age UK. 1,117 people aged 65 or over in the United Kingdom were interviewed between 02/10/2013 - 08/10/2013
1) TNS Winter Omnibus Survey for Age UK (Oct 2013). 28% selected answer staying warm in my own home and 55% selected the increasing cost of energy bills. Respondents could select more than one answer. Population figures for the UK are estimates based on mid-2012 population estimates, ONS 2013, using the figure of 10,840,900 people aged 65 or over in the UK.
2) TNS Winter Omnibus Survey for Age UK (Oct 2013).
3) Estimates based on the ten-year average of excess winter mortality for people aged 65 or over in England and Wales, ONS Excess Winter Mortality statistics 2002-12.
4) Claeys, M. "Cold weather produces more heart attacks", European Society of Cardiology, 1 September 2013 http://www.escardio.org/about/press/press-releases/esc13-amsterdam/Pages/environmental-triggers-acute-myocardial-infarction-air-pollution.aspx
5) TNS Winter Omnibus Survey for Age UK (Oct 2013)
6) 9%. TNS Winter Omnibus Survey for Age UK (Oct 2013)
7) The Health Impacts of Cold Homes and Fuel Poverty, 2011
8) World Health Organization "Extreme Weather Events: Health Effects and Public Health Measures". Fact Sheet No. EURO/04/03, WHO, Geneva, 2003
9) TNS Winter Omnibus Survey for Age UK (Oct 2013)