A new report from Age UK highlights the huge impact the cost of living crisis is having on older people, particularly the most disadvantaged.
Nine in 10 over-50s say they were worried about the cost-of-living increases to some extent, with people aged 50-59, those who are more disadvantaged, from minoritised ethnic groups, living with long term health conditions and unpaid carers most likely to report being severely affected, according to a report by Age UK.
The new report ‘We have to take it one day at a time’, part of Age UK’s new campaign ‘Spread the Warmth’, also found that three in four (75%) over-50s said they have been turning down their heating and/or reducing the hours they use their heating.
When it comes to health, two in five (40%) over-50s said they were worried they wouldn’t be able to heat their home enough this winter. Nearly one in five (19%) 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 10 said they were worried about being able to afford care and support. And almost a third (31%) said their health had got worse in the last 12 months, with three in five (59%) saying an existing health condition had got worse.
The survey found 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.
The survey also found that more than two in five (44%) over-50s 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.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “The way some policy makers talk, you’d think the cost-of-living crisis was over, but our new research shows just how out of touch they are. The rate of inflation may have slowed down but prices for most everyday items are still very high and continuing to rise, putting many older members of our society in a really difficult position. Whether it’s pensioners struggling to pay their bills on their fixed low incomes, or people in their fifties in poorly paid jobs, or out of the labour market altogether due to ill health, caring responsibilities or unemployment, anxiety about making ends meet and getting through this winter is incredibly widespread.”
“Our polling shows that millions of older people are so worried about the impact of high energy prices this winter that they are rationing their heating use, to ensure they can afford their bills. Yet staying adequately warm is crucial for their health and it’s extraordinary, and really rather shameful, that for the third winter running there are so many older people at risk of being chronically cold. We must not allow this to become the ‘new normal’ – in the longer term we need a social tariff for energy to provide vulnerable groups with permanently discounted bills, but in the short term, this winter, the priority has to be helping older people just to get through. That means not only getting them the financial help they need through helping them claim all the benefits they are due, but also providing friendship and support.”
*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. 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.