Almost two-thirds (63%) of older people in the South West say they feel more isolated and/or go out less in winter. Meanwhile, two in five (41%) of those aged 65 and over say they have gone to bed early to stay warm at least once. That’s according to a new survey by older people’s charity, Independent Age, to launch their new Winter Wise advice leaflet for older people, their families and carers.
According to the poll, almost half (49%) of respondents in the South West say they are prevented from leaving their home in the winter because they don’t like the cold and/or damp and just over one-third (36%) don’t go out because they’re worried about slipping and falling on ice or wet ground.
The survey also found that one in three (31%) people aged 65 and over in the South West do not heat their home adequately some, most, or all of the time in winter because of worry about paying fuel bills. Around one in 14 (7%) older people in the region said they have had to choose between paying for food and paying for heating.
Older people can be more susceptible to fuel poverty as they may find they have to heat their homes for longer due to health and mobility problems and the need to stay indoors for longer. One-third (33%) of pensioner households have a net weekly income of under £300 and 1.6 million older people in the UK live in poverty, 900,000 of whom live in severe poverty.
The survey supports the launch of Independent Age’s new Winter Wise leaflet, which provides practical advice and tips to older people, their families and carers on how to look after yourself during the coldest months. The advice spans from eating well and staying healthy to keeping your home warm and making winter more affordable.
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said, “It is saddening that so many pensioners in the South West feel more isolated or go out less in winter. While much more needs to be done to ensure that older people get the support they need in winter, there are also many practical actions that can be taken. These include wearing several thin layers of clothing, having more milk and dairy to help boost the immune system and drawing the curtains before it gets dark to keep the heat in. This and more advice for winter is available in our free Winter Wise leaflet for older people, their families and carers.”