Utility Bill Assistance



How to Help the Elderly in the Winter.

Winter is often unkind to elderly people. Some can't afford to heat their homes, and when the temperature plummets they are vulnerable to health problems and weather related injuries. Frostbite and hypothermia are possible for senior citizens, and snow and ice may lead to falls. At the same time, loneliness and a lack of assistance at home means your aging loved ones and neighbors are at risk of both physical as well as mental ill-health. Here's how you can help seniors during the winter with paying their utility bills, caring for them, and other steps.

Increase visits -  Visit more often in the winter months. Remember the elderly are often afraid to venture outdoors when the ground's slippery, so don't see many people. They are likely to be glad of your company. If you cannot pop in, consider using a home care service for aged relatives who could benefit from socializing.

Check food cupboards - Is it too cold or difficult for them to go shopping? Or are they struggling to pay the utility bills so they put off food purchases? If so, food might be scarce at home. Check the fridge and larder and make sure the basics are there. Bread, vegetables, fruit, tins of soup, dried fruit, cereal bars, whole grain pasta, nuts, tinned mackerel and tuna, and cheese are useful.

Perhaps you can do their shopping when you do yours? Or order a food delivery online? You might eat a meal together too. It will help you recognize whether they have any issues surrounding food, like difficulty chewing, and you can bear the information you discover in mind when you assist them with shopping.

Make sure they are warm - It's important for the elderly to stay warm in the winter, so check the heating system works well and there's enough heat in the house. Make sure they have funds to pay their heating bills and their HVAC is working. If they use a space heater, fireplace, or another resource, ensure it is functioning properly. Ensure extra blankets are close to hand too in case their heat goes off or gets disconnected due to unpaid bills.





Help them apply for emergency utility bill help - Senior citizens often get priority for LIHEAP and other state as well as federal government utility bill assistance programs. The application process can be more complicated for a senior, so help them with it. Read more on LIHEAP for seniors.

Check fuel safety - Gas and wood stoves, the fireplace, and gas appliances must be cleaned and vented, otherwise they could be safety hazards. So ensure they are fit for use and smoke detectors work properly.

Collect medicine - Chilly weather, ice, or physical ailments might make collecting medication difficult for an elderly person. Or they put off that expense in order to pay their heating costs or for food. Can you collect prescriptions when it's cold out? Or maybe a delivery service is available?

Clear icy paths - Cover regularly used icy outdoor areas with sand and salt to help prevent falls. Steps and paths are often main considerations. You'll find what you need at a DIY store. Alternatively, the council might offer assistance.

Senior citizen payment plans - Many utility and heating companies offer special payment arrangement to the elderly who live on a low income. It can help them keep their power on for a period of time. Continue with utility bill payment plans.





Many elderly people go unnoticed in the winter. Especially widows or widowers, or seniors with children that live far away. Tucked indoors, they might be cold, hungry, or encounter other serious problems you can help to relieve with foresight and care. Just a little time and energy could make all the difference to their well-being.

By: Jon McNamara


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