How to Help the Vulnerable in Winter

If you have elderly relatives or neighbours then it’s only natural that you might worry about them during the winter months when the temperature drops. Many elderly people in the UK are so concerned by rising energy prices that they choose not to put their heating on or simply cannot afford to. Did you know that in a normal winter season, 25000 elderly and vulnerable people die due to the effects of extreme cold weather! Here are some ways we can help:

Why is extreme cold dangerous?

For vulnerable people, very cold temperatures can increase the likelihood of hypothermia. This also increases the risk of associated strokes, heart attacks and illness of the respiratory system. Vulnerable people can also fall, especially if they aren’t feeling well.

What temperature should our homes be?

A normal household can have an optimum temperature of 18 degrees but a house containing elderly or vulnerable people should have an inside temperature of between 18 and 21 degrees. Health related problems can start when an internal temperature drops to 16 degrees and below.

Insulate

Insulation plays a vital role in trapping in heat, lowering energy bills and making it easier to keep warm. Thankfully, grants are available for free loft insulation and cavity wall insulation. Give the energy supplier a call and let them guide you in the right direction for increased insulation for an elderly resident.

Boiler

It is possible for vulnerable members of society to get a free gas safe certificate which provides peace of mind, knowing that their boiler is working safely and efficiently. Again, call the energy supplier and enquire about this essential boiler health check. If the boiler is old and breaks down, how long might your relative or neighbour be without heating and/or hot water before you can help them? Good boiler health is therefore essential. For Gloucester Boiler installation, visit http://www.hprservicesltd.com/boiler-and-heating-installation-gloucester/

Schemes to help

Your neighbour or relative should be receiving the Winter Fuel Payment so ask them about it and make sure they are receiving what they are entitled to. The fuel payment seeks to provide financial help with the additional costs of heating during the colder months. Dependent on personal circumstances, the payment is, however, tax-free and not restricted if other payments are received as well.

The Warm Home Discount is another financial aid for people claiming certain elements of the Pension Credit. It is well worth looking into as it entitles claimants to a £140 discount on their electricity bill.

Simple, Immediate Assistance

We can start to make a difference straight away, simply by encouraging the elderly to put on an extra jumper, keep thick curtains closed as soon as dusk falls, not to turn the thermostat below 21 degrees during the day and 18 at night. Offer to run their errands for them so they can stay inside in the warm, especially if it’s icy and you’re worried they could slip. Most importantly, remember to check on them regularly, even if it’s just a phone call, to make sure they are warm and are eating properly.

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