New report from Age UK reveals the enormous challenges millions of older people face this winter

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January 25, 2024

A new report ‘We have to take it one day at a time’, launched today by Age UK as part of their new campaign ‘Spread the Warmth’, shows the enormous challenges faced by many millions of people aged 50 and over this winter.

Over the past three years Age UK has conducted six waves of research into older people’s health and care. Initially, this was focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, where they heard about how much older people were struggling with accessing healthcare, managing their own physical and mental health, taking part in community life and caring for others.

The pandemic had a huge impact on both physical and mental health. However, although this health emergency is now behind us, it was rapidly followed by a protracted cost-of-living crisis, one that continues to this day, putting many older people in it a really difficult situation. And meanwhile of course, COVID-19, flu and other bugs are circulating, and the NHS and social care are struggling to match soaring demand.

Every winter is challenging for older people. However, this year promises to be another particularly tough one, because steep energy and food prices are additional threats for those on low and modest incomes, on top of the added health risks due to cold weather and the depressing effects of dark days and unpleasant weather.

Age UK’s latest report shows the extent to which these challenges are having serious impacts on older people and their wellbeing [i]:

Cost of living

  • Nine in ten (91%) over-50s, equivalent to 23.4 million people overall, said they were worried about the cost-of-living increases to some extent. People aged 50-59, those who were more disadvantaged, from minoritised ethnic groups, living with long term health conditions and unpaid carers were most likely to report being severely affected.
  • Three in four (75%) over-50s, equivalent to 19.3m people overall, said they have been turning down their heating and/or reducing the hours they use their heating.

Health

  • Two in five (40%) over-50s, equivalent to 13.3 million people overall, said they were worried they wouldn’t be able to heat their home enough this winter.
  • Nearly one in five (19%) over-50s, equivalent to 4.8 million people overall, said they were worried they would not be able to eat enough this winter.
  • More than one in five (22%) of people aged 50-59 are worried about being able to afford their prescriptions.
  • More than one in ten (13%) over 50s, equivalent to 3.3 million people overall, said they were worried about being able to afford care and support.
  • Almost a third (31%) of over 50s, equivalent to 8 million overall, said their health had got worse in the last 12 months, with three in five (59%) saying an existing health condition had got worse.

Unpaid Carers

  • One in six (15%) of over-50s were caring for someone else. More than a third of these unpaid carers (34%) were expecting the amount of care or support they provide to increase, while one in five (20%) were worried about whether they would be able to continue providing care or support.

Winter

  • More than two in five (44%) over-50s, equivalent to 11.3 million people overall, said they were concerned or very concerned about this winter. Women (50%), those aged 50-59 (51%), from more disadvantaged groups (51%), from minoritised ethnic groups (53%), living with long term health conditions (57%), and unpaid carers (51%) were all more concerned than their counterparts.

People can also access a range of advice on staying warm and well from Age UK’s winter advice hub at www.ageuk.org.uk/winter. The hub includes tips on staying well, managing money, coping in cold weather, vaccinations and health services, as well as how to support others in your community.

Age UK’s free Winter wrapped up guide has lots of useful information to help people stay well through winter, from what support is available, to keeping homes warm and how to look after your health. Download it from www.ageuk.org.uk/winter or call the Age UK Advice Line to request a copy.

If you are concerned about an older friend or relative, or you are an older person who is worried about paying for food or energy bills, please get in touch with Age UK because help may well be available. Please call them on 0800 169 65 65, visit the Cost of Living hub on Age UK’s website, or follow this link: www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/cost-of-living/

Post expires on April 6th, 2024

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