3.5m older people don’t get help from neighbours, says Age UK

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Dame Helen Mirren is using her renowned talents to help Age UK prevent the “shocking” and “needless” deaths of elderly people during the winter.

Past statistics reveal that up to 200 elderly people die each year from preventable causes during the colder months. Dame Helen said she would “urge everyone to get stuck in this winter and help out older friends, neighbours and relatives with Age UK.”

Age UK is currently rolling out its Spreading the Warmth campaign, which encourages individuals to help elderly people in their local community to keep warm and combat loneliness throughout the harsh, winter months.

Studies have shown that loneliness and depression can impact a person’s health as seriously as obesity and smoking. Factors such as these, combined with the more popularly known increased risk of heart attack, respiratory problems, stroke and vulnerability to pneumonia, have necessitated the Age UK campaign.

Recent research published by Age UK in The Cost of Cold report revealed that over 700,000 elderly people admitted to not knowing their neighbours. These people often express the feeling that they “don’t want to be a burden” and fear any seeming intrusion into people’s busy lives.

It is thought that 25,000 lives are at risk this winter. The Spreading the Warmth campaign is hoping that the Great British public will maintain the communal spirit roused through the triumphs of the Olympic Summer and volunteer enthusiastic support through action.

Participants can make a willing winter pledge to:

• Visit elderly friends, relatives and neighbours.

• Assist with clearing paths, shopping, etc.

• Donate or volunteer with Age UK .

• Obtain a free room thermometer and the Winter Wrapped Up guide by calling 0800 169 6565.

• Encourage older people to wrap up warm when going out by layering clothing, and to keep living rooms heated to 21 degrees and bedrooms to 18 degrees.

• Persuade their MP to act by emailing them.

Committed tweeters can also tweet the warmth by using #spreadthewarmth, or keen Facebookers can fan the flames by sharing their posts on the Age UK Facebook page.

Social activities, contact, expedient advice and support, and essential hot meals are being generously provided by Age UK, who also are simultaneously calling on the government to directly improve the energy efficiency of elderly people’s homes.

The charity has stated that there is an urgent need for local and national government to act immediately. MP’s across the political spectrum are required to support the campaign with a non-partisan, humane attitude which prioritises this public health issue.

Age UK’s Director General Michelle Mitchell stressed that: “winter can cause misery, avoidable illness and even death for too many older people. We’re hoping to inspire everyone to act now to do their bit to lessen the impact of winter for older people this year.

“It feels good to come together and help each other out. Small things and a friendly face make all the difference.”

You can also help AGE UK by visiting their website.

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