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Age UK urges older people to claim help with heating costs as more heavy snow and freezing conditions hit the UK

Age UK logo With heavy snow and freezing conditions forecast to last for the rest of the week, Age UK is urging older people to wrap up warm, keep the heating on, and make sure they’re claiming the benefits available to help with their heating costs.

Most older people will have received the Winter Fuel Payment already this winter but Age UK is urging those who haven’t to check their eligibility and make a claim before the deadline on Saturday 31 March 2018.

In addition, all Pension Credit recipients will automatically receive a Cold Weather Payment if the criteria is met. Yet official figures show that over a million older people who are eligible for Pension Credit are not claiming it – missing out on valuable extra weekly income as well as Cold Weather Payments. The Charity is urging all older people who are living on a low income but not receiving Pension Credit to find out if they’re eligible for extra support.

Research shows that exposure to the cold can have a devastating impact on the health of older people, who are particularly vulnerable to the impact of low temperatures. As people get older it takes longer to warm up which can be bad for people’s health. The cold can also increase blood pressure which increases the risk of stroke and heart attack, and breathing in cold air can increase the risk of chest infections.

Age UK's top tips for staying warm and well over the next week 

  • 18°C (64°F) is the ideal temperature for your bedroom and 21°C (70°F) is the ideal temperature for your living room. Check your thermostat or use a room thermometer to monitor temperature
  • Breathing in cold air can increase the risk of chest infections. If you go out, put a scarf around your mouth to warm up the air before you breathe it in. If you stay in, make sure you keep your windows closed, particularly overnight in the bedroom (even if it’s your normal habit to leave them open)
  • Stay active and when you are indoors try not to sit still for more than an hour, if you can get up. Walk around or make a hot drink (or take one to someone you know can’t get out)
  • Eat well. It’s important to eat well, especially in the winter. Have at least one hot meal a day and have regular hot drinks, as they help to keep you warm.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “These arctic conditions will be really challenging for many older people, particularly those who are more vulnerable because of pre-existing health conditions or who are living in housing that is difficult and expensive to heat.

“With the country now firmly in the grip of the Beast from the East, we are urging people to stay warm, keep the heating on, and make sure they’re receiving all the help that’s available.

“Now is the time to check in on older family members, friends and neighbours. Picking up some shopping for them or just popping in to check they’re okay can be a big help in these conditions.”

Age UK publishes a number of free guides, including Winter Wrapped Up, which offers practical advice to help older people stay warm and well through the colder months. The guide includes information on cold weather preparations, tips on staying healthy, ways to improve energy efficiency and advice on how to keep warm both inside and outside the home. It includes a section on benefits and concessions available to those eligible and a handy pull-out and keep room thermometer. The Charity also publishes a number of other free guides including More money in your pocket to help people navigate the benefits system and has trained advisers on hand all year round to offer support.

Anyone – whether an older person, carer, friend, neighbour or relative – can pick up a free guide by contacting their local Age UK or visiting the Charity’s website www.ageuk.org.uk/winteror by calling Age UK Advice on 0800 169 6565.