Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Spread the warmth

placeholder

Spread the warmth

Did you know that people living in the coldest homes are three times as likely to die from a cold-related illness compared to those in warmer homes?
Even in relatively mild winters, there are around 8,000 extra deaths for every one degree drop in average temperature. Cold homes are particularly dangerous to older people’s health and are a major contributing factor to excess winter deaths. The prevalence of poorly insulated homes, coupled with sharp increases in energy prices over recent years, has forced many people to cut back on their heating in a bid to control costs.
Here are Age UK’s ‘top tips’ to keep yourself warm and healthy this winter:
  • It’s harder to judge temperatures as you get older. Use a thermometer to detect changes and act quickly. Keep your living room at 70F (21c) if possible.
  • Exposure to the cold during the night puts you at greater risk of a heart attack or a stroke. Keep your bedroom at 65F (18c).
  • It’s a common misconception that sleeping with the window open all year round is healthy. Keeping windows open on a winter night puts you at greater risk of a heart attack or a stroke. Keep your bedroom windows closed at night.
  • Protect your fingers, mouth and head – these parts of your body are more sensitive to changes in temperature. Breathing in cold air can increase your chances of becoming seriously ill. Wrap up well when you go outside.
 In Age UK’s new report The Cost of Cold (available in pdf by emailing the Age UK media office), the charity warns of a hidden public health scandal as thousands of older people continue to die prematurely from cold-related illnesses because their homes are too cold. Cold homes are costing the NHS in England £1.36 billion every year in hospital and primary care, according to Age UK’s analysis.
Their report argues that this scandal can be halted: other much  colder countries such as Finland have significantly lower death rates than the UK largely due to better-insulated homes and greater awareness of the importance of keeping warm. Through its annual ‘Spread the Warmth’ campaign Age UK is calling on the government to:
  • Make excess winter deaths a national health priority to drive funding into preventative services.
  • Tackle the problem of cold homes with a rigorous programme of home energy efficiency improvements – carbon tax revenues from next year would be enough to fund energy efficiency measures which would remove 87 per cent of households from fuel poverty over the next 15 years.
Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK, said: “It’s an absolute scandal that tens of thousands of older people will become ill or die this winter because they are unable to keep warm. Not only is this resulting in an incalculable human cost but the NHS is spending more than a billion pounds on treating the casualties of cold every year.
“At the root of the problem are badly insulated homes, which together with cripplingly high energy prices, are leaving millions of older people having to choose between staying warm and energy bills they can afford. We are calling on all local authorities to recognise the issue as a major health priority and make sure they are doing everything within their power to keep older people warm. The government must also invest in a major energy efficiency programme to help insulate older people against the cold weather and the high cost of energy.”
Older people and their families can call Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65, where they can also order a free copy of Winter wrapped up with a free thermometer. Alternatively you can visit www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk to download the guide (here), get more information about the Spread the Warmth campaign and find out where your local Age UK office or shop is. There are lots of ways to help Age UK Spread the Warmth this winter. People can make a donation simply by calling 0800 169 87 87 or visiting www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk.
If you have an older neighbour or neighbours, you might want to visit them as the weather gets colder to make sure they are alright and have everything they need to keep warm. If you yourself are worried about your health, do seek advice from your GP, follow the tips from Age UK above and contact them on the advice line number, and reach out to family, friends and neighbours who may be able to help you out this winter.
Article courtesy of Age UK.