Cold weather is drawing in and the days and nights are getting chillier. Some areas have already had their first frosts of the year, and we’re all just hoping that there won’t be a repeat of previous years where temperatures have dropped down to double figures in the minus in places.
With fuel bills rising and food costs looking to go the same way, there are genuine fears that some older people are going to be forced to choose between heating and eating as more than a third of pensioners worry about affording their bills.
Recent research has shown that upwards of 25,000 elderly people die each year from illnesses related to the cold weather.
Age UK – formed in 2009 after a merger between Help the Aged and Age Concern – have launched a campaign to assist people worried about their bills, and the charity also offers heating grants to vulnerable elderly people.
But there is plenty you can do to help out if you are concerned. It could simply be popping by occasionally and see if they are ok, but why not invite them around for a cup of tea and a chat, or even a hot meal?
You can also help them out with information. Although there are plenty of ‘silver surfers’ out there, some older people might not be as internet savvy as you, why not keep an eye on the met office website to give elderly neighbours a warning if there is likely to be a particularly cold snap or help them to fill in forms if they are eligible for grant funding.
And of course you can support your local Age UK shop where they raise vital funds to protect the elderly at this particularly difficult time of year.