It’s Cold Homes Week and Age UK is raising awareness of the devastating effects of the cold on older people. In this guest blog post, Alan Maryon-Davis, who is Honorary Professor of Public Health at Kings College London, explains why the issue of cold homes is a massive public health crisis.
Yesterday Age UK launched its campaign for warm park homes with a packed event in the House of Commons. Over 30 MPs attended and pledged their support for the campaign, which is very encouraging.
Today’s blog is about Age UK’s recent parliamentary reception to celebrate the commitment of our Age Champion MPs. Pictured is Age UK campaigner Joan, receiving flowers from the Speaker of the House of Commons in thanks for her speech.
On Monday 6th July, Age UK were delighted to host a Reception in the Speaker’s House with a number of our dedicated older campaigners and Parliamentarians. The event was an opportunity for MPs to speak with older people and representatives from Age UK about the issues affecting people in later life, and what the government and communities can do today and tomorrow to make the UK and their constituencies a better place to grow older.
Age UK campaigner Joan Manning gave a moving speech about her personal experience caring for her husband. She explained:
‘I have been lucky. My husband Geoffrey was a very gracious and accommodating patient. He was not aggressive. He was funny and made jokes until the day he died. I was lucky: He did not die of Alzheimer’s. He was ‘saved’ by his cancer. Geoffrey was eventually assessed as being unwell enough to qualify for care. Unable to get out of bed, stand or communicate, with diffuse cancer and in the depths of dementia. This was 3 days before he died. Yes – I was lucky.’
The reception was also an opportunity for us to talk about what it means to be an ‘Age Champion’; a pledge that over 80 MPs signed up to during our General Election campaign. By signing up to be an Age Champion, MPs will work with Age UK on issues being faced by many people in later life including:
– The need to end the crisis in social care, with over 1 million older people who have difficulty with basic tasks such as getting out of bed, washing, and dressing receive no help or support.
– The urgent need for better housing and warm homes in winter. In 2012 there were over 600,000 older households living in fuel poverty.
– Loneliness and isolation, with around 1 million older people regularly going an entire month without speaking to anyone
The event was a huge success and a fantastic opportunity for us and our campaigners to meet our Age Champions and discuss our ambitions for later life.
For more information about our work with parliamentarians head to our Politics and Government website pages. You can also follow our public affairs and campaigning work, and see photos from the reception, on Twitter: @ageukcampaigns.
‘Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century’ is the stark opening statement of a new report published in The Lancet on Tuesday 23 July.
It is now well understood that cold homes are dangerous. People who are vulnerable because of underlying health or mobility issues can face an increased risk in cold conditions from high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and respiratory illnesses, as well as dizziness, falls and depression.
The figures for ‘excess winter deaths’ for last winter (2013-14) are mercifully down on the truly awful figures for the previous year. But this is no cause for celebration. It is a grim reminder that the debate about energy is not just about prices, but is also about lives, illness and misery.