As the temperatures drop and cost of heat increases are you looking after your loved ones?

According to a recent report by the BBC, 10 degrees is the average temperature they will be living in if they cannot afford to heat their homes. Not only does this make for an unpleasant environment, it can also have a dramatic effect on our bodies as we age - worse if you are elderly or vulnerable too.

Not as mild as you would think.

For the average healthy person, 10 degrees may seem fairly mild - especially given the -6 temperatures we've been enduring recently. However, as the article states, prolonged periods of exposure to a constant 10 degree temperature has an effect on the heart, lungs and brain.

Professor Bailey from the University of South Wales tells us that 18 degrees is the tipping point - that is when the body starts to work hard to protect the core 37 Celsius needed to function all the vital organs. After just 30 minutes of exposure to 10 degrees Celsius, blood flow to the brain falls by 20% and skin temperature in legs and arms falls by an average of 2 degrees. The body also burns more carbs as heart rate and number of breaths increase to try and preserve the body's core temperature.

Too cold to function

To a person who is living in a cold house and having to endure constant cold temperatures, the drop in brain function makes it difficult to complete daily tasks, work from home or even help children with their homework.

What's more, according to Professor Bailey, the body's main goal of protecting that core temperature more intensely with faster heartbeat and blood pressure increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. In fact, it's why heart attacks and strokes are more common in winter.

Help is at hand

The elderly and those who have poor heart health are particularly at risk and if you are acting as an attorney, it's even more important that you ensure the person you are responsible for is kept warm. This could be as simple as making sure the thermostat and heating is working at home or where they are staying - and that the individual can afford to put the heating on.

You should be checking to make sure they are claiming any financial help or benefits that they might be entitled to. If necessary, you could also try speaking to their energy suppliers to see if they offer any support for elderly or vulnerable people.

If you're unsure whether or not you can act on behalf of a loved one, you will need to know if they have given you Lasting Power of Attorney. This is a legal document that will enable you to access bank accounts or apply for any help and support that might be available from the government.

If you would like some advice relating to a Lasting Power of Attorney, contact the Private Client team at Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.

Liz Dalgetty

Liz Dalgetty

Consultant Solicitor & Notary Public

Tel: +44 (0) 1306 502251

Office: Dorking Office