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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Half of adults fear winter challenges for elderly relatives

Published 27/12/2012 | 05:00

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ALMOST half of adults worry about the wellbeing of their elderly parents or relatives in the winter – especially during bouts of snow and inclement weather, a survey reveals.

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A survey of 6,609 adults by AA Ireland found that 49pc of respondents have fears about how their parents or other elderly relatives who are living alone will cope with the challenges of winter.

Their fears include worries over whether their elderly relatives will be able to keep up with home heating costs and/or the upkeep of their homes and their ability to get on with their lives during periods of snow and ice.

A number of respondents stated that they were very anxious after their elderly relatives were cut off from their families and communities due to heavy snowfalls in the past.

Several respondents said they were worried because their parents lived in isolated rural areas and they would not be able to reach them in the event of heavy snow or a snowstorm while others worried that their parents' homes were poorly insulated and feared their water pipes would freeze during a cold spell.

However, the online survey also revealed that the majority of respondents were more than willing to make checks ahead of bad weather to ensure that their parents or relatives were safe.

More than half of respondents (52pc) check to ensure that their parents or elderly relatives have sufficient home heating oil while 58pc check to make sure that the footpath in front of their homes has been cleared of snow and ice.

Half of respondents also make sure that their elderly relatives have a good supply of food and other essentials during cold snaps while slightly less than half (47pc) make sure that they've had their flu vaccinations.

Just under half (47pc) will ask their relative's neighbours to keep an eye on them.

However, just over a quarter of respondents (29pc) said they would check to make sure their relatives are keeping up with their electricity and gas bills.

Several respondents cited their own financial woes and their parents' pride as reasons for not offering to chip in to pay their utility bills.

However, AA said there are a number of relatively inexpensive ways for younger family members to maximise home heating efficiency and prevent hazards for their elderly relatives.

Drafts

They include:

• Bleeding radiators to ensure they are working to maximum efficiency;

• Have boilers regularly serviced to ensure maximum efficiency and safety;

• Checking for drafts and blocking them and caulk gaps and cracks;

• Have chimneys swept to prevent creosote from building up which can cause a chimney fire;

• Check to ensure smoke alarms are working and fitted with good quality batteries;

• Ensure that water pipes are insulated and that attic pipes are also insulated;

• Turn off the main water supply if the householder will be away for an extended period and drain the pipes.

• Clear gutters from leaves and other debris and check the roof for broken or missing slates.

Irish Independent

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