ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has called on all organisations to work together to support older people this winter and ‘share the warmth’.
In light of rising energy costs, and in partnership with Government and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, the organisation is encouraging older people to stay warm this winter.
“We know from the older people we work with that there is huge concern around energy costs this winter,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “We want to spread the message among older people, communities, and organisations working with older people that supports are in place, and we do not want older people to restrict their energy usage in ways that could impact their health this winter.”
“Keeping warm in winter is not just an issue of comfort, but a health issue for older people and people with health difficulties,” he continued. “We know that cold homes are associated with health conditions worsening. These health conditions include respiratory and heart conditions, arthritis, minor illnesses like colds and flus, increased risk of accidents and injuries, and poor mental health. Internationally, several studies show that older people will sacrifice other costs, including food, to heat their homes during winter. Our experience in ALONE reflects this. This winter, we do not want anyone to feel they have to choose between heating and eating. No one is yet fully sure what the winter will bring and the level of support required will be, but we will work with everyone in the community and voluntary sector to ensure schemes are fit for purpose.”
A recent survey carried out by ALONE among older people we work with indicated that:
- 92% of older people ALONE work with say they are most concerned about heating and energy bills, followed by food prices (67%) and household maintenance (such as broken appliances) (32%).
- Nearly three quarters were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ concerned about the cost of living
- Nearly two thirds worry about struggling to pay the bills
ALONE is encouraging older people to reach out to their national helpline if they are concerned about energy and heating this winter.
“We are implementing a coordinated winter response [in conjunction with our partners in the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications], and want older people to know that financial and practical supports are available – whether you are struggling to pay your energy bill, need advice on how to minimise your energy costs while staying well, or are simply concerned about the winter to come,” said Moynihan. “Importantly, we want older people to know that we and our partners are here and will find solutions to energy difficulties you might face this winter – you just need to lift the phone.”
The organisation has noted that older people are more likely to live in colder homes, and are on fixed incomes, both of which can pose financial difficulties during the winter months.
“More than half of older people aged 75+ live in BER rated EFG homes, which are more difficult to keep warm, and more than 214,000 older people were in receipt of Fuel Allowance in 2021. CSO data shows that people aged 65+ are experiencing among the highest inflation rates,” said Moynihan. “The increase in energy costs is particularly difficult for older people, in particular those who are reliant on the State pension, who are living alone, who live in rural areas, or have health difficulties.”
He continued, “We would also urge that all organisations and individuals who work with older people support and share the message to stay warm and well this winter. By working together, we can reach every older person and ensure no one feels they have to face this alone. At ALONE, we will provide direct support and also link in with our partners across the country to ensure no older person who makes contact with us goes without necessary support this winter – whether that is financial support, delivery of solid fuel, or simply a listening ear.”
ALONE’S National Support & Referral Line can be reached from 8am-8pm, seven days a week, by calling 0818 222 024.
ALONE’s tips for staying warm and well this winter while minimising your energy costs include:
- Lights use minimal amounts of electricity. Rather than switching off, switch to LED or energy efficient bulbs
- Prioritise keeping devices that help you stay safe and well turned on. Keep your pendant alarm on (it uses a very small amount of energy), and your phone charged.
- Before the winter really kicks in, get your boiler serviced, bleed your radiators and make sure your water cylinder is insulated. This will help you to be prepared and ensure your home and water is as warm as it can be.
- Eat at least one hot meal per day. Using your microwave can use less energy than your oven. When using your oven, once it is turned off, you can open the door slightly to make the most of the heat that has been generated.
- Get up, get dressed get moving: Keeping active can help to keep you warm. ALONE and our partners at Get Up, Get Dressed, Get Moving; Siel Bleu Ireland; and Age and Opportunity developed an at-home exercise guide suitable for everyone which can be found here
- Wear several layers of light clothes
- If you have curtains, blinds etc, open them on sunny days to use the heat of the sunlight to heat your home. Close the curtains or blinds at night to provide more insulation.
- Reduce energy use in areas that won’t affect your health. For example, only boil what water you need in the kettle, prioritise heating the rooms you spend the most time in, and wash clothes on a lower temperature.
For more information, please contact:
Laura O’Flaherty, Limelight Communications, [email protected], 01 668 0600 / 086 079 6227
Kathryn Byrne, Limelight Communications, [email protected], 085 233 6033
ALONE is a national organisation that enables older people to age at home. Our work is for all older people and aims to improve physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. We have a National network of staff and volunteers who provide an integrated system of Support Coordination, Practical Supports, Befriending, a variety of Phone Services, Social Prescribing, Housing with Support and Assistive Technology. We use individualised support plans, to address health, financial benefits and supports, social care, housing, transport and other arising needs using technology and harness other services.