Winter health for older people

Look after your health this winter, including tips on keeping warm and safe, cheap ways to heat a house, and claim winter fuel allowance.

Cold weather in the winter months can cause health problems for the elderly or vulnerable. There are simple things you can do to keep warm and stay healthy in winter.

Prepare for winter

Before winter arrives, you can:

  • set your heating to the right temperature (18 to 21°C) which is warm, but keeps bills as low as possible
  • improve the insulation in your home and fit draught-proofing
  • get the free flu jab from the NHS for those who are aged 65 or over, have certain medical conditions, live in a residential or nursing home, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person
  • build up a stock of medicines
  • stock up on essential food items - including non-cook foods and long-life milk in case of a power cut
  • have your heating and cooking appliances checked - carbon monoxide is a killer. Find a registered engineer on the Gas Safe website.

During the winter

When the cold weather arrives, you can:

  • eat well - have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day to maintain body heat. You can find more advice on our healthy eating pages
  • keep warm in bed by wearing socks, thermal underwear and using a covered hot water bottle
  • stay active and keep moving to keep you warm, even if it's just wiggling fingers and toes
  • keep blankets handy in case the heating fails

Winter fuel payments and other financial support

There are various types of grants, benefits and financial support available to help keep your home warm.

Name of grant or benefit Who is eligible?
Winter fuel payment

If you were born on or before 26 September 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. You usually get a winter fuel payment automatically if you are eligible.

Find out more about the winter fuel payment on the government website.

Warm home discount scheme

You could get £140 off your electricity bill if you either receive the guarantee credit element of pension credit, or
you’re on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme.

Find out more about the warm home discount scheme on the government website.

Cold weather payment

You may get a cold weather payment if you’re getting certain benefits. You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees or below for 7 consecutive days. You’ll get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.

Find out more about the cold weather payment on the government website.

North Yorkshire Home Efficiency Fund

Residents in Scarborough and Ryedale can apply for funding for energy efficiency measures for their home. Find out more in our schemes and grants section

Warm and Well North Yorkshire You can apply for hardship funding or help with minor repairs to make your home warmer under this scheme. Find out more on the Warm and Well North Yorkshire website.

You can also check you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled on the government's heating and housing benefits page.

More useful information

You can visit the winter health page on the Age UK website for more information about preparing for winter, and keeping yourself warm, healthy and safe during the winter months. 

You can also find advice on how to stay well in winter on the NHS website and information about hypothermia on the NHS website.