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1 in 5 Over 75s Forced to Choose Between Everyday Essentials

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms
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In 2023, the cost-of-living crisis is seriously affecting the lives of many people in the UK, and the elderly are no exception.

A recent survey of people over the age of 75 has revealed that the cost of living is a real concern. 7 in 10 of the seniors surveyed said that they had felt negative effects of the crisis in some form.

Shockingly, 1 in 5 of the respondents even said that they had been forced to choose between paying for basic necessities like energy and food.

It’s never acceptable that anyone has to choose to skip meals to keep the lights on, or vice versa, but these kinds of harsh economies are even more dangerous for seniors. Elderly people are frailer, and a lack of these essentials can have very grave consequences.

The risk of elderly people reducing their food budget

There are numerous concerns associated with a lack of proper nutrition in older people.

Firstly, older adults have specific nutritional needs. For one, older people are more at risk of nutritional deficiencies like vitamin B12 deficiency, so it is important for them to consume nutrient-dense foods. Variety in the diet is important, too, both for nutrition and to provide interest and enjoyment for older people who are at risk of having lower appetites.

Older people who have medical conditions like high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes may also need specific diets to control those conditions. Reduced budgets could mean older people can’t afford the food they need to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

On top of all of these concerns, dehydration in the elderly is an issue to watch out for, especially in older people with dementia. Fluids like juice or soup can help encourage an older person to consume liquids if they don’t tend to drink water.

In other words, for older people, food can be a crucial part of their healthcare and general wellbeing.

What about the temperature?

Given that proper nutrition is so crucial, one might think that lowering the heat is a better way to economise for seniors who have been forced to choose between the basics.

But that’s not so at all. Lowering the room temperature can actually be extremely dangerous.

Experts around the world agree that the absolute minimum safe temperature for rooms where an elderly person lives is 18° Celsius – about 64° Fahrenheit.

In some cases, such as for seniors with long-term health conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), slightly higher temperatures around 21°C (70°F) are preferred.

Why is this? Because low room temperature is associated with two serious problems – elevated blood pressure and tightened airways.

Older people who have high blood pressure are at increased risk of emergency health events like strokes when their living space is too cold.

Likewise, elderly people whose breathing is already under strain because of conditions like COPD or asthma can find that their airways tighten in the cold, making breathing even more difficult.

Clearly, seniors also can’t afford to reduce their household spending by lowering the heat.

Help from the government

Given the seriousness of the cost-of-living crisis, where 40% of seniors are forced to choose between food, heat and other everyday basic needs, it’s no surprise that more than half of the elderly people who responded to the survey also felt that the government should provide more help to older people who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

When older people skip meals, turn off the heating or miss out on other essentials because of the price, they are facing very real dangers. Action from the government on these costs would do a great deal to help protect older people’s health and quality of life.

How personal alarms can help

While there is no easy fix for the cost-of-living crisis, personal alarms can help. Affordable personal alarms from SureSafe can play an important part in care plans for seniors who would like to stay in their own home rather than moving to a costly care home.

If you’d like to know more, give us a call on 0800 112 3201, or try our live chat. There’s also an option to request a call back if you’d like.

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