Disabled Battersea pensioner using tap to make hot drinks because she can't afford to boil water

One of the growing number of elderly people cutting back on food amid the cost-of-living crisis has told of how she is eating crackers instead of meals and using hot water to make coffee because she can't afford to boil water.

Sonia Lawrence, a disabled pensioner from Battersea, spoke to ITV News as a new Age UK poll shows how elderly people are planning to cut back on the amount of money they spend on food, medicine and care.

Ms Lawrence, a retiree with mobility issues is left with £65 a week to spend after paying her rent.

Sonia making a cup of coffee with hot water from the tap. Credit: ITV News

Electricity isn't included in her rent but water is, so to save money she uses kitchen tap water to make hot drinks.

"It's very, very tight at the moment," she told ITV News. "Benefit-wise I don't get enough money. I have to be scrimping, pinching, make sure that lasts me."

Ms Lawrence says she has to miss meals sometimes because food is too expensive.

"I just have some crackers, hot water or black coffee," she said. That will suffice me then I just go to sleep."

A significant proportion of elderly people also plan to cut back on the amount of money they spend on care, the poll of 1,600 over-60s found.

The NHS could be impacted as one in 10 over-60s across the UK say they're planning to reduce or stop the care they receive because they can't afford the cost, Age UK said.

The charity said that care needs are "essential" in keeping people fit and well.

Sonia often eats crackers instead of having a proper meal. Credit: ITV News

Around 22% are planning on cutting back on non-prescription medicines or specialist foods.

One elderly patient told the charity: "Sometimes I don't take my painkillers or eye drops because they are too expensive. I cannot afford them."

And 15% have already started or are planning to reduce the number of meals they eat every day.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "The cost-of-living crisis has made everyday purchases much more expensive and many older people living on low and modest incomes are finding it impossible to cope, with worse likely to come as they need their heating on more during the chilly weather.

A significant proportion of elderly people plan to cut back on the amount of money they spend on care amid the cost-of-living crisis. Credit: ITV News

"It's terrible that we have reached a position in which the best financial option for some older people is to forego the care and support they rely on, or indeed a square meal or the pain killing gel that makes their knee pain bearable, but high prices over the coming months mean we can only see many more finding themselves facing this predicament.

"That's why the government must restore the triple lock and raise both benefits and social care funding in line with inflation at next week's Fiscal Statement. There's no doubt that not to do so would be a false economy so far as the NHS is concerned, as well as severely jeopardising older people's health."

A government spokesperson said: "Social care is a top priority and we are committed to bolstering the workforce and protecting people from unpredictable care costs - backed by £5.4 billion.

"To help with rising costs, we have provided at least an extra £1,200 in cost-of-living support to eight million of the most vulnerable households, reversed the rise in national insurance contributions, and made changes to universal credit to help working households keep more of what they earn."

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