social isolation

Have an elderly neighbour? Check in on them

Hundreds of people die each year due to health risks associated with cold weather and fuel poverty.

PEOPLE HAVE BEEN encouraged to check in on their elderly neighbours as the winter sets in.

Dublin Fire Brigade have dealt with a number of hypothermia-related calls recently, and have asked people to key an eye out for those in their community who might be vulnerable.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of Alone – an orgnisation that helps older people, said the coming weeks will be a difficult time for some elderly people.

Moynihan told older people “need to be aware of the dangers of the cold” and related health issues.

“Ultimately the priorities at this time of year are food and heating,” he said.

Moynihan noted that hundreds of people die each year due to health risks associated with cold weather and fuel poverty – when a person spends over 10% of their income on heating.

shutterstock_182927369 Shutterstock / Kristo-Gothard Hunor Shutterstock / Kristo-Gothard Hunor / Kristo-Gothard Hunor

Moynihan noted that people, especially the elderly, are staying at home more than usual at this time of year, leading to higher heating and electricity bills.

“Think of it this way, if you’re sick and off from work – if you’re lucky enough to have a job – and you’re at home and have the heating on all week, you’d really see it in your next bill.

I was speaking to an older man the other night and he said he was delighted it had been so mild as ‘There might be only three big heating bills this year, rather than four’.

Moynihan said the five euro pension increase in the Budget “doesn’t really go that far”.

Living alone 

He urged family members, friends and members of the community to check in on older people this winter. He noted that just under a third of all over 65s live alone, a figure likely to increase in the latest census.

Moynihan asked older people to “reach out to their community where they can”, but noted that many services will wind down over Christmas – making this difficult and isolating for some people.

Over the Christmas period, Alone’s team of 300 volunteers visit older people each week. The organisation also runs a Christmas dinner dance and delivers hundreds of Christmas hampers to older people in need, with a special Christmas Day dinner delivered to a number of older people.

More information about their work can be read here.

Read: There’ll be a million over-65s in Ireland by 2031 – experts say we need a plan

Read: ‘I didn’t want to be any bother’: Older people urged to ask for help this Christmas

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