An estimated 752,000 pensioners have been forced to choose between paying for food and heating their homes, according to a new survey by an older people’s charity.
Meanwhile, 43% of older people who responded to the survey say they have gone to bed early to keep warm, with 890,000 doing this often or even every day.
Research by the charity Independent Age shows that 1.6million of the UK’s 11.4million older people are still living in poverty, and 900,000 of these are in severe poverty.
Over one-third of older people in the UK are unable to adequately heat their homes, due to the cost of fuel. Worryingly, one in seventeen older people surveyed by Independent Age will only heat one or no rooms this winter.
One in seven pensioners have even resorted to going to a library or shopping centre, just to stay warm.
Older people with health problems or disabilities are particularly susceptible to fuel poverty, say Independent Age, because those with mobility issues have to stay indoors longer.
According to the survey, two-thirds of people aged 65 and over are feeling more isolated and will go out less this winter. Almost half of those questioned will not leave their homes over fears about slipping and falling on ice or wet ground.
The survey also shows that 6% of older people are unable to have a hot meal every day this winter.
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said, “It is saddening that so many pensioners are faced with the choice of heating or eating during the coldest months of the year.
“While much more needs to be done to ensure that older people get the support they need in winter, there are also many practical actions that can be taken.
“These include wearing several thin layers of clothing, having more milk and dairy to help boost the immune system and drawing the curtains before it gets dark to keep the heat in.
“This and more advice for winter is available in our free Winter Wise leaflet for older people, their families and carers.”
Independent Age has released a new “Winter Wise” leaflet, containing tips and advice for older people and their families on how to stay warm during the colder months.