Scots are being urged to be attentive to older friends, neighbours, and relatives as temperatures have plummeted to sub-zero.
Leading charity Age Scotland has warned that snow and ice will further isolate older people, preventing them from getting for their vaccination and household essentials.
Chief executive Brian Sloan, said: “Unfortunately the combination of severe weather and the winter lockdown is creating a perfect storm, putting tens of thousands of older people at risk of isolation and ill health.
“We’re urging everyone not to forget about their older relatives, friends and neighbours during this cold snap.
“Simply picking up the phone or knocking on someone’s door to see if they need a little extra help could make a huge difference, especially if they are feeling isolated and unable to leave their home.
Mr Sloan recognised that many older people are keen to get to their vaccination appointments but dissuaded them from doing so at the expense of their physical wellbeing.
“If you’re struggling to make it, it’s not worth battling the elements and putting yourself at risk – there will be another opportunity,” he insisted.
Age Scotland found that the winter lockdown has caused tens of thousands of older people to feel more isolated than ever, but many are reluctant to ask for help.
However, research has shown that reaching out could make a huge difference – as 94,000 older people reported that they would not have gotten through 2020 without the kindness of strangers.
The charity is also concerned that many older people will put themselves at an increased risk by not heating their homes adequately.
Mr Sloan continued: “We’re encouraging every older person to make sure that they are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to.
“Older people are at greatest risk from cold temperatures, but also more likely to experience fuel poverty.
“It’s simply unacceptable that tens of thousands are struggling to pay their fuel bills or turning their heating down to save money, especially when help is available.”
New figures from Independent Age revealed that older people were missing out on an estimated £88 million in Warm Home Discounts, as four in ten eligible people don’t claim Pension Credit.
This equates to 123,000 pensioner households that are missing out in Scotland.
In addition to topping up pensions, Pension Credit entitles people to a range of other benefits – including £140 of energy bills and an extra £25 for every seven-day period of very cold weather over the winter.
Cold weather can be detrimental to people’s health with age, as it increases the risk of respiratory illnesses, heart attacks, and strokes.
Age Scotland has advised that older people ensure their living areas are heated to around 21 degrees Celsius, that they’re consuming plenty of hot food and drinks throughout the day, and wrapping up warm outside.
If you’re unsure whether you’re missing out on Pension Credit and Warm Home Discounts, call the charity’s advisors on 08001 244 222.