Age UK has launched a new campaign to highlight the huge challenges facing many older people and how Age UK provides solutions and – just as importantly – reassurance.
Amidst one of the most difficult winters many older people will have ever experienced, as they try to make their fixed incomes stretch to cover the essentials at a time when prices are soaring, new research from the charity Age UK reveals just how big an impact the cost of living crisis is having on many older people’s mental health and wellbeing.
The research, which was carried out in January, found that 9.6 million over 60s (60%) were worried about paying their energy bills, and 7.2 million (45 per cent) were worried about affording other essentials, such as food.
In addition, around half (49%) of those over-60s who took part in the research, equivalent to almost 8 million people in all, were worried about the impact of energy bills on their health. This figure rose to three-fifths (62%) of those whose income is £20,000 per annum or less (equivalent to 3.3 million over 60s); and to nearly two-thirds (65%) of those on a very low income and in receipt of benefits (equivalent to 1.6 million over 60s).
The Age UK study also revealed that 10% of the sample, equivalent to 1.6 million older people in total, had recently carried out a benefits check to see if they were eligible for any more money, demonstrating how concerned they were about making ends meet. 6% of the research sample, equivalent to about a million over 60s overall, reported having sleepless nights because of high energy prices.
The Charity is launching a campaign to raise awareness of the huge challenges facing many older people, and how Age UK draws on its expertise to offer practical solutions and, just as importantly, a sense of reassurance for all those who are buckling under the strain of this unprecedented cost of living crisis.
The charity is shining a spotlight on the tough challenges many older people are facing this winter with the launch of a new film. The charity’s campaign cites problems such as struggling to afford heating, or electricity, and being socially isolated, pointing out that no one needs to cope with these issues alone and that Age UK is there to help. The campaign, entitled ‘Age UK. Know what to do’ showcases how services like the Age UK Advice Line stand with older people in difficulty, providing expert advice with kindness and sensitivity, to help an older person and sometimes their family and friends, to overcome the particular problems they face.
Age UK’s national services are a lifeline, especially for older people who have no one else to turn to. The Charity’s free and confidential Advice Line is open every day of the year and has access to experts on a huge range of issues an older person may encounter as they age, empowering them so that they know what to do in their own situation, and helping them to do it. The specialist team of advisors are on hand to give expert advice, including finding out if older people are entitled to extra financial support. For example, during the past seven months Age UK’s Advice Line has identified over £2 million worth of unclaimed benefits, averaging an additional £4,468 per person. Of these older people, four in five (84%) were found to be at risk of fuel poverty.
The Charity also offers The Silver Line Helpline, a 24-hour service for older people who need someone to talk to, and a Telephone Friendship Service that gives older people the chance to enjoy weekly chats with a new friend.
Dame Judi Dench, Age UK supporter, said: “With the cost of everyday items rising so rapidly, it’s no wonder so many older people are anxious about their future and how they will be able to manage.
“That’s why I am supporting Age UK as it launches this new campaign to raise awareness of the difficulties older people are facing. Age UK offers a range of support for older people, including information and advice, and friendship services for those struggling alone. It’s important to not only shine a light on the issues worrying many of those who are older, but also on the vital support the Charity offers and the fact that there is help available.”
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said; “Our new research tells us there are a lot of older people who are worried sick at the moment, particularly about how they can keep their heads above water when every time they go to the supermarket they see that prices have risen again. From conversations with older people we know that some live in total dread of their next fuel bill, and are at their wits end as they try to stay ahead of energy costs like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
“In our experience at Age UK, most older people are resourceful and resilient, and determined to be self-sufficient, but this is an exceptionally challenging winter, especially if you are an older person without a lot of money to go round at the best of times. Our new campaign points out that life can seem ok on the surface, but underneath it an older person may be finding their situation incredibly stressful, because of the horrible uncertainty about prices and the worry they may be unable to make ends meet, with no obvious way out.
“At Age UK we want older people and their families and friends to know that at Age UK we are here for them, we stand with them, and we will help them find the best solution for whatever is troubling them, and support them with the next steps. We totally understand why so many are so worried, but we want them to know that whatever they are facing there is reason for hope, we are here to help, and they are not alone.