Spare a thought for the elderly at risk in cold weather

Lawrence McGinty

Former Science and Medical Editor

The snow can be more than just a nuisance to older people Credit: Rod Minchin/PA Wire

If you're snowballing or trying to drive through a blizzard, snow is either fun or a dratted inconvenience. But for one group it could be fatal.

The elderly suffer disproportionately in cold weather.

Here's a few statistics from Age UK:

  • Last winter, there were 21,700 excess winter deaths of people aged 65 and over in England and Wales.

  • The health effects of cold homes has been calculated to cost the NHS in England £1.36 billion annually.

  • Even in relatively mild winters, there are around 8,000 extra deaths for every one degree drop in the average temperature.

  • In very cold countries, such as Norway, excess winter deaths are much lower because of the precautions they take. In the Russian city of Yakutsk, the coldest city in the world, there is no excess winter mortality.

So spare a thought - and a hand - for any old folk you know who might be in bother.

You can find more advice on how to help on Age UK's Spread the Warmth website.