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Help aged in winter.

SIR - Last winter a staggering 28,700 people over 65 in Wales and England died from illnesses resulting from the cold.

Deaths among older people have increased by 35% in just one year, which is the highest figure in five years. This is a shocking increase and clear evidence of the need for more support for the elderly.

The Met Office is predicting that this winter could be coldest for 10 years so the outlook for older people looks bleak.

But winter deaths are avoidable and that is why the British Gas Help the Aged Partnership has produced 'The Cold Can Kill' packs which I am endorsing again this year.

In the pack I outline simple, practical measures to safeguard against the dangers of the cold, such as eating regularly, having a warm flask by the bed, dressing with layers of clothing, keeping a supply of basic medicines and when to have a flu jab. There is also information on how to claim benefits and grants specially designed for older people including the British Gas 'Here to HELP' programme.

As a GP I see the tragic results of people who become cold in the winter months. Sometimes that cold creeps in gradually and the end result is pneumonia or even a heart attack. It is not just when temperatures are freezing. The risks increase as soon as the temperature drops below 16C (60F). Therefore, an easy-to-use thermometer is also included in the pack as an aid to ensure rooms are adequately heated.

The 'Cold Can Kill' packs can be accessed through the campaign's page at www.helptheaged.org.uk or you can call 01255 473999.

It is vital that we do everything to ensure older people stay warm and healthy during the winter months.

DR HILARY JONES,

London, on behalf of the British Gas Help the Aged Partnership.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 15, 2005
Words:308
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