Three million elderly people will find it difficult to heat their homes adequately this winter due to rising energy prices. This will put them at an increased risk of falling and worsening respiratory and heart disease. This is the alarm raised by the Italian Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics (SIGG), which calls for government intervention to support the most fragile elderly.
“The need to bear the cold at home due to high bills is not only an unpleasant condition but also dangerous for the health of the elderly”, says Francesco Landi, president of the scientific society, which will meet for a congress in Rome starting tomorrow.
The greatest dangers are borne by the heart: “When the temperature in the house drops, in fact, the blood vessels constrict, increasing blood pressure and hindering circulation. Even our blood becomes thicker,” says Landi. “The narrowing of blood vessels also leads to more urination, which can cause dehydration. These changes can increase the risk of blood clots and force the cardiovascular system to work harder.”
Among the risks, also an aggravation of lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, and ostoarticular diseases. “Often the elderly, due to the cold, decide to stay in bed even all day and even avoid eating adequately”, underlines Landi. “Furthermore, the sensation of cold can increase chronic pain, especially that linked to pathologies typical of old age such as arthritis or osteoarthritis. This could increase the risk of suffering a fall or some other injury at home”.
For Sigg specialists, it would be desirable for the Government to take charge of this situation with direct aid to older people, with low incomes and in critical health conditions. “An action of this type would prevent the elderly from getting sicker and sicker, reducing hospitalizations with greater savings for the health service,” concludes Landi.
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