Age UK recently shared a report showing that cold homes are a “major factor” in two out of five extra winter deaths amongst the elderly. The staggering statistics show that for every drop in temperature degree during the winter, there are an extra 8,000 UK deaths.
The report shines a light on the dangers of badly insulated and poorly-heated homes, claiming responsibility for thousands of extra deaths during the winter months.
During the cold months, the NHS will spend millions of pounds caring for the elderly suffering with heart attacks, strokes and respiratory problems all brought on by the excessive cold.
In Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, cold-related deaths are lower than in here in Britain, even though in February (Sweden’s coldest month), temperatures there can be as low as – 22 to -3°C. In the north of Sweden, temperatures can even plummet to as low as -30°C!
Winter – Related Infections
Flu is much more prevalent during winter amongst the elderly and young children. Cold temperatures lead to drier air, which can dry out the mucus which helps our bodies to get rid of virus particles.
People living in Britain’s coldest homes are 3 times more likely to die from a cold-related illness. Respiratory disorders are exacerbated by the colder temperatures. Damp conditions may lead to mould within the home, leading to the impairment of respiratory functions.
Blood Pressure / Cardiovascular Disorders
Even your blood pressure can fluctuate with weather temperatures. Higher blood pressure can be a cause of heart attacks, while unstable blood pressure can lead to blood clotting and trigger strokes.
Cardiovascular disorders account for 40% of extra winter deaths.
What is Hypothermia?
Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature falls below 35 degrees. Symptoms can include delirium, violent shivering, and even unconsciousness.
Our most vulnerable members of society are at risk of hypothermia throughout winter. Regulating the body’s temperature can be difficult for babies and the elderly, as eating warm food and remaining physically active can be a challenge.
NHS statistics confirm that deaths linked to hypothermia doubled in the past five years, with pensioners being most at risk.
AGE UK have put together this handy web page, offering advice and help to the elderly worried about preparing for the winter.