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Helping you and your loved ones live well in later life

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1-in-3 elderly people lived in homes that were unhealthily cold last winter, according to a study by Taking Care Personal Alarms.

In response to the findings, we are encouraging friends and family of elderly people to ‘Think H.E.A.T’ and follow simple steps to ensure vulnerable elderly people stay safe and warm this winter.

The NHS recommends that regularly used rooms, such as bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms, should be heated to a minimum of 18 degrees during the winter period.

However, our study revealed an alarming number of homes occupied by vulnerable elderly people are not being heated to this standard – with more than 1-in-3 homes being heated to below NHS recommended temperatures in winter 2023.

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Where we got our data

Taking Care Sense is an in-home device that monitors room temperature and prompts loved ones and carers if temperatures change to unhealthy levels.

Data from Taking Care Sense devices report that 43% of homes where the devices were installed were heated to below the NHS recommended 18 degrees in January 2023, and 45% of homes were below recommended temperatures in December 2022.

Our elderly monitoring devices are placed in elderly people’s homes to alert loved ones of any changes in lifestyle habits to prompt a wellbeing check.

Cold homes can risk poor health in older and vulnerable adults

Cold homes can increase symptoms of various health conditions, as well as increasing the risks of contracting serious health conditions like hypothermia.

Think H.E.A.T

To help families of elderly loved ones prepare for the winter, we have released guidance on simple steps people can take now to protect vulnerable elderly relatives ahead of the colder months.

  • H - Home safety: check they’re getting the support they need at home
  • E – Essentials: ensure they have access to winter essentials
  • A – Active: keep up activity levels, such as gentle exercise and social activities
  • T – Temperature: check the home is heated to a minimum of 18 degrees

Where to begin?

H – Home safety

Check they’re getting the support they need at home, such as:

  • Identifying and eliminating fall risks
  • Encouraging them to stay active
  • Checking their space is free from trip hazards
Elderly lady walking down stairs

E – Essentials

Ensuring they have access to winter essentials by:

  • Encouraging them to get the flu jab
  • Making sure they have their grocery shopping
  • Making sure they eat three meals a day
  • Ensuring they are dressed for cold weather
  • Making sure they stay hydrated
  • Helping to keep their shelves stocked up with supplies
Senior getting a flu jab

A – Active

Making sure they’re keeping active in the winter months by:

Elderly people socialising

T – Temperature

Making sure they’re staying warm by:

  • Checking their heating is working
  • Making sure they have got their winter fuel payment
  • Checking that their home is heated to 18 degrees
  • Encouraging them to keep moving
  • Making sure they have the correct clothing to wrap up well, especially when outside
Old man wrapped up warm with hot drink

Insufficient heating in the homes of elderly, vulnerable people presents a serious risk through a number of conditions including hypothermia, and can exacerbate existing health issues. In addition, this time of year can see older people become isolated and suffer poor mental health.

Steve Gates
Managing Director at Taking Care

Where you can get support

This winter will be a worrying time for lots of us with the cost-of-living crisis threatening to push many elderly people into fuel poverty over the next few months.

Support is available for elderly people who need help paying for energy bills. The Winter Fuel Payment is a one-off payment of up to £600 that is paid to qualifying elderly people in November 2023.

It’s important to note that to be eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment, you must have been born before 25th September 1957 and lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 18th to 24th September 2023 - known as the ‘qualifying week’.

To check if you’re elderly relatives are eligible, visit the government website.

Man speaking on phone

Frequently asked questions

What temperature should your heating be on in winter?

The NHS recommended temperature is a minimum of 18 degrees. This is especially vital for the elderly who have reduced mobility or health conditions.

What is the winter fuel payment?

The winter fuel payment is an entitlement that could get you between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills.  

Who qualifies for winter heating allowance?

You can get a Winter Fuel Payment if you were born before 25th September 1957. Most people should get the winter fuel payment automatically if they’re eligible.

Who should you speak to if you are struggling to pay your heating bills?

You should contact your energy supplier if you are struggling to pay your gas or electricity bills. You can discuss ways to pay and your supplier has to help you come to a solution.

You may be able to agree a payment plan or negotiate better rates. Citizens Advice can provide advice and guidance about energy bills and help with how to contact your energy supplier.

Are there grants to help support with improving insulation in the home?

There are two schemes that can help. The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme is for those on a low income and provides free loft, roof and cavity wall insulation, as well as new boilers. If you don't qualify for the ECO scheme, you may still qualify for other schemes such as the Home Upgrade Grant and the Warm Homes Nest scheme (Wales only).

The Great British Insulation Scheme also supports improving insulation, although you may need to pay some of the costs. You need to be in council tax band A to D in England, A to E in Scotland and Wales and have a home EPC rating of D or below.

How to monitor low temperatures

Taking Care Sense is an in-home device that monitors room temperature and prompts loved ones and carers if temperatures drop below recommended standards.

How Taking Care Sense works

It is a small, discreet sensor, which can be placed in the kitchen and monitors the atmosphere and activity levels with its innovative AI technology. There are no cameras, microphones, wires or power cables and the sensor boasts a three-year minimum battery life.

Taking Care Sense learns the user’s behaviour patterns through changes in temperature extremes and the room environment and Taking Cares Resolution Team will investigate any changes or anomalies via a wellbeing check-in call.

Taking Care Sense can be purchased as a standalone product or in addition to an existing personal alarm solution.

Taking Care Sense

Taking Care Sense is easy to setup

After a few visits to my mother's house and finding it to be chillier than I’d like, I was becoming increasingly concerned.

Now, having the data that shows if her house isn’t sufficiently heated is good motivation for ensuring the heating is on when required and on days when I can’t get round to see her, someone will check in with her if the house is colder than advised.

Taking Care Sense customer

Articles and guides from Taking Care

Read articles and guides with expert advice and tips encourage healthy ageing, covering topics such as health and fitness, finance, elderly care and home safety.

Grandfather and grandaughter

Winter home safety tips for older adults

Winter brings higher risks for older adults. Identify hazards, especially for those older loved ones who are living alone.

Winter safety tips

Son with elderly mum

Spotlight on Carers report

Our new report explores attitudes towards caring for elderly parents and the barriers that adults in the sandwich generation face to accessing care support for their frail relatives.

Unpaid and under pressure

Lonely man on doorstep

Recognising the signs of loneliness in the elderly

Download our Staying Connected guide to understand the symptoms of loneliness and address the causes.

Signs of loneliness

Carer with senior man

Know your carers’ rights

If you provide care to elderly friends or family and you’re struggling due to the rising cost of living, this guide may help.

Carers' rights

Man moving home

How to promote independence in the elderly

As we age, our health and mobility can limit independence. Finding a balance between helping our elderly loved ones and encouraging their confidence to perform tasks on their own is important.

Promoting indepedence

Family Christmas scene

How to help loved ones feel less alone at Christmas

Caring for an elderly loved one during Christmas can be challenging, but small gestures can make a big difference.

Tips for carers at Christmas

How Taking Care support independence in later life

As we get older, we should be able to continue doing the things we love and living life the way we want to. However, ageing can bring feelings of vulnerability and affect activity levels. Our personal alarms can restore confidence, and enhance independent and active living, with the reassurance that help is just a button press away if needed.

Personal alarms for the home and out-and-about

Have the freedom to maintain an active lifestyle, with reassurance help is available wherever you are. 

An Out-and-About Personal Alarm will also work in your home so you can get help from Taking Care's Emergency Resolution Team any time of the day or night.

Compare out-and-about alarms

Taking Care Personal Alarms helped over ¼ million people feel safer at home and out-and-about

Read Jacqueline's story

Please don’t worry, I’m okay now but I had a fall earlier today.

Despite telling me not to worry, I was understandably anxious when I received this message from my mother recently. My parents are more fortunate than many older adults who live alone. On the day my mother fell she knew my father would eventually find her. However, she fell over in the garden at the back of the house, my father was in the front of the house at the time and didn’t hear her calling for help.

Read Jacqueline's story

Read Dion's Story
Private pay telecare

Help was just the touch of a button away when Dion's mother had a fall, thanks to her pendant alarm.

Dion's Mum uses her personal alarm to live independently in her own home. Read how it helped her remain independent and get help when she fell.

Read Dion's Story

Read Alice's Story
Elderly personal alarm with landline

Alice's Gran was won over by the reassurance the monitored alarm service gives her and her family members.

Alice's Gran was sceptical about getting a falls alarm, until she needed to get help in an emergency. Now she loves her Taking Care Personal Alarm Service.

Read Alice's Story

Read Betty's story
Personal alarm customer Betty

I'm 93 and don't have any family so my alarm gives me the confidence to carry on doing the things I enjoy.

Betty turned 93 years old this year, but her age doesn’t stop her from remaining active and living independently. However, she is very much aware of her age and care requirements, so her personal alarm is a source of reassurance. Betty recognises that it gives her security to remain active and independent.

Read Betty's story