Our latest press release:
Nearly half of us worry about the comfort and well being of an elderly parent or relative during winter time the results of a new AA poll of more than 6,500 people suggests. The AA which has extended its roadside rescue expertise into the home to deal with home emergencies conducted the survey as part of its overall study of behaviours and attitudes towards home maintenance in Ireland.
While some respondents indicated their parents were highly capable and independent, others shared major concerns about a range of issues from their ability to keep up with home heating costs, the condition and general up keep of their homes and their ability to cope during bouts of snow and ice. Several respondents polled said they’d had the very worrying experience of having an elderly relative cut off the last time there was heavy snow.
The poll also highlights that it’s during these spells of cold weather that younger family members are most likely to step in and lend a hand. Mobility is a major worry for family members and clearing the front path of a loved one is the first activity they’re likely to engage in to help out during winter weather according to the AA Home Rescue poll. Following this, family members will look to check if their elderly relations have enough home heating fuel and that their fridge is well stocked so that their basic needs are catered to.
The next port of call is to ask a neighbour to keep an eye on them, while fifth in the ranking in terms of activities younger generations are likely to engage in to look after their elders over winter is to encourage them to have the flu vaccination each year.
In contrast, the poll reveals that one of the areas family members are least likely to intervene is in terms of checking whether older relatives are keeping on top of their bills. Many respondents indicated they would like to be in a position to provide more financial support however money was too tight. Others shared a belief that they would cause huge offence for even suggesting it.
“Money of course is a consideration but there’s lots of free or inexpensive ways you can help out those who might be a bit more vulnerable during the winter.” Says Cliona Brennan, Head of AA Home Rescue. “It’s more difficult to regulate body temperature as we get older and a trip around the house to eliminate drafts, bleed radiators and check the chimney for example can make a big difference to comfort levels.”
Some practical ways to lend a helping hand:
Bleed their radiators: You can make sure that all their radiators have been bled so that they are getting the maximum efficiency for their money.
Have their boiler serviced: If you can afford it, another good way of helping out could be to organize their annual boiler service for them so that it’s in good working order and won’t let them down on a cold day. This is something which is provided to AA Home Rescue customers who opt for the boiler service and repair add on. It’s also a good idea to have a basic carbon monoxide alarm installed in their home just in case.
Check for drafts: You can also check their home for drafts and caulk up an unnecessary gaps or cracks. Another relatively simple and inexpensive thing you can do is have door jams installed if there’s a bit of a gap underneath the door. This will also help to keep mice and rats out.
Have their chimney swept: If they use their fire place it’s also no harm to make sure their chimney has been swept. Creosote tends to build inside the flue especially during cold weather and its highly combustible stuff and can even lead to a chimney fire.
Check their smoke alarms: Make sure they have enough smoke alarms in their home and replace the batteries with a reliable brand throughout so that you know they’ll be powered up for a good few months to come.
THEIR PIPES: In recent years a lot of businesses and homes learnt the hard way the importance of making sure that pipes are properly insulated to prevent them from cracking during very cold snaps.
Check the insulation: Check their pipes are thoroughly insulated remembering to check right up into the attic, an area of the house they may find difficult to access themselves.
Turn off the mains: If they’re coming to stay with you over Christmas or they will be away from home at any other time over winter it’s also a good idea to switch their water off at the mains and drain their pipes by letting the taps run and flushing their toilets.
Burst pipes can be a very costly affair particularly if they don’t have building and contents insurance in place.
THEIR ROOF AND GUTTERS: It’s also worth giving a bit of thought to other areas that can be difficult for them to access.
Clear their gutters: Wet leaves and other autumn debris can be a scourge at this time of year and a trip up a ladder can be a very daunting task for an older person who isn’t as steady on their feet at they once were. Choose a dry day to tackle the job, arming yourself with work gloves, a trowel and a bucket.
Check their roof: While you’re up there it’s also a good opportunity to inspect their roof for any broken or missing tiles that could lead to water damage to the interior of the house.
Fig. 1 % of respondents who indicated they worry about an elderly parent or relative living alone during the winter months (Based on 6,609 responses):
|Doesn’t apply to me||28%|
Fig. 2 Activities people engage in to alleviate their worry for an elderly parent or relative living alone during winter (Based on 6,609 responses):
|Have their boiler serviced||25.6%|
|Do a full inspection of their home to make sure its sufficiently “winter proofed” (e.g. pipes properly insulated, swept chimney, check for drafts, check the roof for damage, check smoke alarms, clean their gutters)||31.1%|
|Check they have sufficient home heating oil (oil, coal etc.)||52.1%|
|Carry out necessary maintenance on their car to make sure its fit for winter weather||21.9%|
|Make sure they’ve had their flu vaccination||46.6%|
|Check to make they’re keeping up with all their bills such as electricity and gas.||28.6%|
|Bleed their radiators||33.2%|
|Make sure they have a good stock of groceries during predicted cold snaps||50.1%|
|Ask their neighbors to keep an eye on them||47.3%|
|Make sure the footpath in front of their house is deiced during cold snaps||57.9%|
Note: About AA Home Rescue: AA is driving its roadside rescue expertise home, and we’re now rescuing homes too. From burst pipes to boiler melt downs – one call to our unique Home Rescue Team will fix home emergencies big and small. And from just €6.99 a month, with no call-out fee, it practically pays for itself. For more information visit: aaireland.ie/homerescue