Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Quinlivan - Check on your older neighbours this winter

15 December, 2006

Sinn Fein's Maurice Quinlivan is highlighting the need for us all to be aware of the effects the cold weather can have on the elderly and to be aware that we can all help in reducing these effects. Checking on vulnerable people is the responsibility of all of us.
In winter:

  • Deaths amongst the elderly increase by approximately 23 per cent
  • One quarter of those aged over 65 live alone
  • Between 1,500-2,000 extra people die in Ireland in winter compared to summer
  • Cold weather, inadequate heating and poorly insulated homes play a part in many of these deaths.

Sinn Féin spokesperson Maurice Quinlivan said: "Whilst we are still some time away from the real cold spells of January and February it is important that we help our older relatives, friends and neighbours prepare for the cold weather. Therefore I very much welcome Age Action Ireland's recently launched and very important "Stay Well and Warm" initiative. All homes with elderly people should get their hands on a copy of the information booklet. The information guide contains a really useful room temperature guide, which will easily enable a room to be maintained at the correct temperatures. The
booklet is packed with useful tips of how to stay well and warm this winter. This information pack can be obtained from Age Action on 01 475 6989 or ordered through their web site on or from myself as I have a small supply of the packs.

It is important to remember that sometimes people especially older people
who feel proud and independent may find it difficult to ask for help.
Therefore it is up to all of us to be good neighbours and active in ensuring
that we are doing everything we can to support those who may have difficulty
in coping with the cold weather. Remember that about a quarter of those over
65 live alone and in winter deaths of the elderly rise by almost 23%. This
compares very badly with other European countries some of which have much
colder weather than we have here in Ireland. Elderly males living alone are
particularly at risk.

It is important that we don't work on the assumption that someone else will check on elderly neighbours or relatives. Checking on vulnerable people is the responsibility of all of us. We must remember that whilst people in poorer areas are most at risk from the cold, vulnerable people in all areas of Limerick need their neighbours, friends and relatives to ensure they are managing to stay warm and safe. It is estimated that more than 17% of Irish households experience fuel poverty, older people are a significant portion of this group.

Ensuring our older citizens stay warm will enable them to avoid Hypothermia, which in serious cases can lead to death. Rooms need to be maintained at a proper temperature. The thermometer supplied by Age Action Ireland in the information pack will enable people to ensure rooms are heated and maintained at correct temperatures. Rooms should be maintained at temperatures of between 19-21c for a living room and not less than 14c for the bedroom. It really is incumbent on all of us to do whatever we can to
ensure older people stay safe and secure this winter."

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