Response to new excess winter death figures equating to 379 older people a day
Published on 30 November 2018 11:31 AM
New figures released by the ONS today show that over the winter of 2017-18 there were nearly 46,000 excess winter deaths among people aged 65 and over. Excess winter deaths compares the number of deaths between December and March to those during the rest of the year.
Responding to the new figures, Age UK's Charity Director Caroline Abrahams, said:
“Last winter there were nearly 46,000 excess winter deaths amongst people aged 65 and over – a shocking 92 per cent of all excess deaths – equating to 379 older people a day. These distressing figures are now the highest we’ve seen in over 40 years.
“A toxic cocktail of poor housing, high energy prices and ill health can make winter a dangerous time for many older people, and tragically it is the oldest old and those who are the most vulnerable who particularly suffer the consequences.
“We know such high levels of excess winter deaths are not inevitable. As a country we are not doing enough to ensure our older population stays warm and well throughout the harsh winter months.
“Age UK is urging older people to do everything possible to protect themselves against the threats posed by the winter cold – and it is vital that we pull together and make sure we all help those around us.”
Anyone who is concerned about staying warm and healthy this winter should call the Charity's advice line free of charge on 0800 169 6565 or visit ageuk.org.uk/winter for a free copy of its annually updated guide Winter wrapped up and to browse our advice on staying warm and healthy in winter.
Ways to protect yourself during the winter
- Have a flu vaccination every year – the new vaccine introduced this year for people 65+ has an agent which helps boost the immune system and helps fight illnesses.
- There is also a pneumonia vaccine. Find out if you’re eligible when you have your flu jab.
- Keep your hands clean - good hand hygiene helps stop infections spreading.
- Keep simple cold and sore throat remedies in your medicine cabinet to treat minor illnesses when they strike. Your local Pharmacist can give advice on treatments.
- Wrap up when you go outside in the cold; use multiple layers and keep hands, feet and face warm and covered with scarves, gloves and thick socks.
- Eat well – make sure you eat at least one hot meal every day, hot drinks throughout the day to keep up energy levels.
- Keep warm to stay well - your living room temperature to 21 degrees and your bedroom temperature to 18 degrees and take particular care if you going from a warm environment into the cold.
- Keep moving – try not to sit still for more than one hour at a time even if you just move your arms and legs. If you can stay active. Not only will it keep you fit and healthy, it will also generate heat to keep you warmer.
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Notes to editors
[ii] ONS mid-year population estimates for 2020 show that there are 3.8 million people aged 60-65 in England (accessed here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/datasets/populationestimatesforukenglandandwalesscotlandandnorthernireland). The Government’s Impact Assessment (accessed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/996781/impact-assessment-upper-age-prescription-exemption.pdf) says that 95% of people aged 60-65 use at least one prescription a year, equivalent to 3.6 million people, and that 34% of these prescription users would retain exemption from prescription charges following the proposed policy change. We therefore estimate that 2.4 million people aged 60-65 (66% of prescription users) will need to pay for prescriptions following the proposed policy change.
Age UK’s new Behind the Headline report can be found here:
In response to the Department’s consultation, almost 40,000 people submitted responses via Age UK’s website. We believe this level of response shows the strength of concern about the proposals. We recently wrote to the Secretary of State to express our concerns along with 24 other organisations including the Royal College of GPs and Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Many clinicians are concerned about these proposals’ impact on older people’s health too.
The consultation puts forward proposals to increase the qualifying age for free prescriptions from 60 to the State Pension age, which is currently 66 for both men and women but is on track to rise further.
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 believes that everyone should have the opportunity to make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances. We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to 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.
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).