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Charity urges older people to stay warm to stay well

Published on 19 December 2022 12:00 AM

Northern Ireland’s leading charity for older people, Age NI, is urging older people to stay warm to stay well. It says it is hearing from older people who have turned their heating off to save money and is warning over the health risks to older people from being exposed to the cold.

Dr Paschal McKeown, Charity Director, Age NI said: “Older people tell us they are reducing the time they have their heating on, or that they are not putting it on at all, in fear of being unable to pay the bill. With energy prices rocketing, it is understandable that older people might think they have no option but to turn their heating off. With the recent bitterly cold snap, and more wintry weather to come, we desperately want them to know that there are very real health risks associated with being cold and we are urging them to do all they can to keep warm and stay well.

“Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can have a significant impact on older people’s health. The cold raises blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke and breathing in cold air can also increase the risk, and impact, of serious illnesses like flu and pneumonia. Ageing bodies find it harder to adjust to big changes in temperature, particularly when coping with ill health or mobility issues.

“We advise people to keep their living room (or the room they use most) warm while they’re at home during the day and heat their bedroom to 18°C (64°F) before they go to bed. Rooms that aren’t being used, for example a spare bedroom, can have the radiators turned off and the doors closed so energy isn’t wasted. We have lots of useful up to date energy efficiency advice on our website, aimed at helping older people make informed decisions to make their budget work harder:

“We are also keen to make sure that older people are getting all the financial support they are entitled to, to help make ends meet. Through Age NI’s Advice Line, we help hundreds of older people to discover what they are entitled to and how to claim. These benefits and payments are rightfully theirs, and many older people don’t know they are eligible to claim. Life is not going to be easy over the coming months and this extra money could become life-changing.

“Last year alone we helped to unlock over £1million in unclaimed benefits for older people here. Pension Credit opens the door to a wide range of other financial support, including Cold Weather Payments. We urge all older people to check this as a matter of urgency and put in a claim without delay. They can call our free advice line on 0808 808 7575, or check what benefits they could be entitled to by checking out our online Benefits Calculator:

"We know the festive season in particular can be hard for older people living alone, especially when the weather is bad and it’s difficult to get out. We are calling on the public to keep a friendly eye on older relatives, friends and neighbours; offering to bring some shopping or picking up medicines from the pharmacy can be a real help. And the simple act of a phone call, a visit, or including an older person in social plans can bring such a boost. Please remember older people in your plans this festive season.”


Last updated: Jul 03 2023

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