Ask Age NI

How do I prepare properly for the colder weather?

Winter can be a challenging time of year and the cold weather can be a worry for many older people. However, with a little preparation, and by following some simple suggestions from the Age NI Winter wrapped up guide, it’s possible to keep warm, well and in touch this winter. To get you started, here is our top five list to help you prepare for winter:

1. Heat your home well. By setting the heating to the right temperature

(18–21°C or 64–70°F), you can keep your home warm and your bills as low as possible.

2. Get financial support. There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills. It’s worthwhile checking that you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to.

3. Eat well. Food is a vital source of energy which helps to keep your body warm. Try to make sure that you take regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day.

4. Get a flu jab. If you’re over 65, you can receive a free jab from your GP to protect against seasonal flu.

5. Look after yourself and others. On extremely cold days try to avoid going outside and remember to wrap up warm if you do.

For more practical support, download our Winter Wrapped Up guide at www.ageni.org/spreathewarmth or call 028 9024 5729 to request a hard copy today.

I’m really concerned about money this winter. Can I claim Pension Credit? Is it worth the bother?

There are two types of Pension Credit – Guarantee Pension Credit and Savings Credit. You must be above State Pension age to receive either of these benefits.

Guarantee Pension Credit is extra money to help increase your weekly income, up to a minimum level decided by the Government. At present, this amount is £137.35 for a single person and £209.70 for a couple. This amount may rise significantly if you are disabled, a carer or have certain housing costs such as mortgage interest payments. Savings of £10,000 are ignored.

Even if you have over £10,000 you may still qualify, depending on your individual circumstances. You may not have qualified in the past, but the rates and allowances change each April, so it’s always worth checking your entitlement again!

If you are eligible for Guarantee Pension Credit, you will:

• Receive the maximum help with rent or rates

• Get assistance from the Pension Service (if you are a home owner) who may help you with services charges, ground rent, mortgage interest and interest on home maintenance loans

• Gain access to the Social Fund.

Savings Credit provides you with extra money if you have savings or income higher than the basic state pension, perhaps due to a small private or occupational pension or investment. This benefit is for anyone aged 65 and over.

If you do receive either Guarantee Pension Credit or Savings Credit, you may also get help from the Warm Homes Scheme, Energy Efficiency Grants and automatically receive a £25 cold weather payment (if and when the weather falls below 0 C degrees for seven days in a row).

Call the Pension Credit Line on 0800 100 6165 to complete a telephone application. Please make sure you have your National Insurance Number and any details of your income and savings to hand.

Visit www.ageni.org/spreadthewarmth for more information and advice on dealing with the challenges of winter. Age NI could help you or someone you know by calling the Age NI Advice Service on freephone 0808 808 7575 today for a free benefits check.

Find out about older people’s networks in your area by visiting www.ageni.org/networks.