The dark days and chilly temperatures of winter can test anyone at times, but they can be especially challenging for frail or elderly people, or those with certain medical conditions. The dangers are much worse for such people living in cold or draughty conditions. With ever-rising fuel bills, the heating is often turned down or switched off to save money, and rooms can soon become cold and damp. People may resort to heating just a single living room, allowing other rooms, including bedrooms, to go cold for long periods.
What can you do?
It is vital that you make sure you get all the financial assistance that you are entitled to. Here is a checklist:
Winter Fuel Payment - up to £200 for eliigible households; depends on your age (over 62 years; up to £300 if you are aged over 80) and circumstances during the qualifying week (19-25 September 2016). Phone 03459 15 15 15 for more information or visit Gov.UK
Cold Weather Payment - £25 for each period when the average temperature is below freezing on 7 consecutive days and you are on certain qualifying benefits. For more information visit Gov.UK or contact your local Jobcentre Plus.
Warm Home Discount - discount of £140 on electricity bills of certain low-income and vulnerable households. See Warm Home Discount
Cheaper tariffs? - you may be able to find a better deal from your existing supplier or by switching suppliers. Use a price comparison website to see what's on offer, or contact your supplier. See Finding the best energy deals
Warmer homes - under the ECO (Energy Company Obligation) scheme, some customers qualify for financial help towards measures such as better insulation or a replacement boiler. Contact Warmer Homes Stafford on 0800 677 1785; see also Insulation and heating grants
Help to stay healthy
Cold living conditions can have a serious impact on health, particularly for people with chronic ailments such as circulatory or respiratory disease. They are more susceptible to infections such as colds and flu, which in turn can lead to potentially fatal bronchitis or pneumonia. So here are a few tips to staying healthy in spite of the wintry weather:
- Get a flu jab -these are free for anyone over 65 and for others with certain medical conditions; ask your GP for advice.
- Eat well - a healthy diet is possible even in winter; use tinned or frozen vegetables if fresh ones are unavailable. Hot drinks and hot food help maintain body temperature.
- Exercise - keep moving if you can; it's good for health and keeps you warm.
- Dress for the weather - lots of layers help to maintain body heat, especially when outdoors.
Sources of advice
Download the booklet Keep Warm Keep Well published by Public Health England.
Read more tips about staying healthy on Age UK's website