More than three million older people are worried about staying warm indoors this winter – with six million anxious about rising fuel bills, says Age UK.
The charity said its research shows many are unaware of the potentially fatal consequences of living in poorly heated housing.
Cold temperatures endanger the elderly by increasing the risk of flu, chest infections and other respiratory problems, and their severity.
Being cold also pushes up blood pressure which may trigger heart attacks and strokes.
Almost one in four people (22 per cent) taking part in the research did not know that a number of serious health problems are made worse or brought on by the cold.
This rose to 29 per cent amongst people aged 80 and over.
Fewer than one in 10 Britons aged 65 and over are aware that strokes can be brought on by the cold in winter, with only 14 per cent recognising that the cold can impact on heart attacks.
The survey marks the launch of Age UK’s Spread The Warmth winter campaign, which is aimed at cutting the 24,000 excess winter deaths that occur nationally each winter.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK, said ‘It’s vital for older people to keep warm, both inside and outside their homes in the winter months.
‘Being cold, even for just a short amount of time can be very dangerous as it increases the risk of associated health problems and preventable deaths during the winter.’
‘Through our Spread the Warmth campaign, we are calling on everyone to recognise the importance of staying warm and well this winter and to think about older friends, neighbours and relatives as the temperature drops.’
Living room temperatures should ideally be kept at 70F (21C) and above whereas bedroom temperatures should be kept at a minimum of 64F (18C), according to international guidelines (from WHO).
But the survey of 1,100 Britons aged 65 and over found four out of five did not know the ideal living room and bedroom temperatures.
Among their major concerns this winter were staying warm at home cited by 28 per cent of respondents – equivalent to three million older people nationwide – and the soaring cost of energy bills, selected by 55 per cent.
Official advice issued last week told elderly people unable to afford fuel bills to heat only their living rooms during daytime this winter.
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