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A call to lend a hand to older people during the cold snap

Older woman colder weather

15 January 2024

With heavy snow falling and weather warnings for ice in place for most of the country, Age Scotland is urging people to look out for older neighbours, friends and family.

Extremely cold weather can be especially challenging for older people who are at greater risk of slipping on icy pavements and can be more vulnerable to developing health conditions such as hypothermia if they are exposed to cold for long periods of time.

Many older people will be confined to home during this spell of cold weather, meaning they can't get out and about for essentials such as food shopping, attend appointments or pick up prescriptions.

Scotland's national charity for older people is calling on everyone to play their part in supporting older neighbours, friends and relatives to ensure they have enough food, that their homes are warm enough and that they are not struggling alone.

A phone call, or better still a visit, could make all the difference to an older person facing difficulties because of the weather.

Three simple things to consider when checking in with an older person might be:

  • Do they have plenty of food, including ingredients to make at least one hot meal a day?
  • If they cannot get out, do they need a lift to a medical appointment or help with rescheduling it?
  • Does their house feel warm enough - letting the temperature drop indoors is dangerous for older people's health, particularly when it is bitterly cold outside

Katherine Crawford, chief executive of Age Scotland, said:

"We're currently experiencing the coldest temperatures of the winter so far, which is particularly challenging for older people. The very real fear of falling on icy pavements or in heavy snow can result in many older people feeling trapped at home and unable to get to the shops, pick up prescriptions or attend appointments.

"I would urge everyone to be a good neighbour - check in on older people living nearby as well as older friends and family. Ask if they need any shopping done, or help getting to appointments. For those living alone or lonely, a friendly visit and offer of help could make a world of difference and let them know they're not forgotten.

"It's also extremely important that older people are keeping warm at home. The cost of living crisis has resulted in many older people cutting back on heating, but living in a cold house, especially during winter, can lead to serious health conditions. I would encourage older people who are worried about the cost of energy bills to contact the Age Scotland helpline on 0800 12 44 222 for advice and support."