While the cold winter months can be uncomfortable for all of us, for elderly people, the bitter temperatures pose a serious risk to their health, and even their lives. By sparing a few minutes to check the heating of any elderly friends, family or neighbours you may have, you could be making an incredible difference.
Excess Winter Deaths
Last year, over 31,000 elderly people died as a result of illness stemming from the cold winter weather. This represented a 29% increase on what are known as “excess winter deaths” from last year, a rise which lead to fierce calls for David Cameron to spend money on insulating homes across the country. In March, 1,582 people died every day, which was a 14% increase on the average number. The stats were worse than those of Finland and Sweden, which gives you an idea of how dangerous these conditions can be to older people.
What You Can Do
Over the course of the winter, checking in with your elderly friends, family or neighbours can make a real difference to their comfort and health. It doesn’t need to be a huge inconvenience to your day; simply popping round to check their heating is functioning and making sure they have suitable warm clothing and blankets is all you need to do. They will greatly appreciate your kindness and help, and it can allow them to be as comfortable as possible during the winter.
Do You Know Any Of These People?
There are several groups of people who are particularly at risk from the harsh temperatures:
- People over 75 years old (especially women) who are living on their own/isolated from friends, family or neighbours
- Sufferers of chronic or severe illnesses, e.g. heart conditions, diabetes, or breathing problems, and mental illnesses
- People with disabilities or who are bed bound, as they cannot adapt their routine to the cold weather
- People who suffer from Alzheimer’s – they also will struggle to adapt their routines accordingly
If you have elderly friends or family who you can visit, then please do. Visiting them just once every few days, or even once a week means you can check they have everything they need; heating, food, warm clothing and most of all, comfort. Elderly people are especially vulnerable to illnesses like pneumonia and the flu, so if you can spare a few hours every week to help them out, you could make their lives a lot easier.