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Reflections on cold weather and older age

02 February 2019
Volume 24 · Issue 2

As I write this editorial, we are about to experience the coldest weather so far this winter. Temperatures are consistently dropping below freezing at night and remain low during the day. In Scotland, the mercury has dropped to -10 degrees Celsius. It seems timely, therefore, to consider the impact of cold weather on older people at home. The majority, we hope, have been vaccinated against the flu, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to preventing excessive morbidity and mortality in this age group in the winter months.

The impact of cold temperatures on older people is not widely known, but the statistics are stark. When the weather is cold, one older person dies every 7 minutes, and an average drop of 1 degree Celsius over the winter period will result in 5000 more deaths (NICE, 2015; Age UK, 2018).

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