How rising energy bills are leaving people with dementia in the cold

Paul Monaghan is living with dementia and has been feeling the cold this winter. With energy bills on the rise, he wonders if it will soon become difficult to heat the whole house.

Paul is 64 years old and lives in Omagh, Northern Ireland. He was diagnosed with young onset dementia in January 2018. 

People with dementia rely on a warm house in the winter so that they can stay healthy and feel comfortable at home. But with energy prices on the rise, Paul is worried about keeping warm this winter.

‘I am worried that it might become too expensive to heat the house,’ says Paul. ‘The Government need to look at fixing payments, so we know what we need to pay and it’s a regulated price across all providers.’

Paul at home wearing a jumper, next to an image of his garden covered in snow

Paul has chatted to other people with dementia who share his concerns. Sometimes the world outside can feel bewildering, and it is comforting to retreat to the safety of your own home. This is especially true in winter as temperatures drop.

Trying to stay warm

Paul is practical and wear lots of layers at home. Yet it is not enough. He still needs to rely on heating to keep the cold at bay.  

The rising cost of energy bills is not just a problem in Northern Ireland – it is affecting the whole of the UK. Members of our online community Talking Point, who live in England, have been feeling the cold too and are worried about the cost of their energy bills. 

SueBo says:

‘My husband has to have a light on all night in his bedroom, but gets out of bed after only an hour or two and starts to wander downstairs, switching lights and the electric fire on. I’m dreading the ending of our fixed tariff in February. ’

Yorkie46 says:

‘My fixed rate ended just as the massive price hike hit so I ended up on another fixed rate deal which is £196 per month for dual fuel. Much more than I was paying previously.

My husband has worsening dementia and extremely poor mobility so spends long periods sitting in a chair. He regularly complains of his legs feeling cold despite having heating on and sometimes the gas fire too. I'm dreading what the bills will be this winter’ 

Alzheimer’s Society research is showing us that dementia and Alzheimer’s can make cold weather difficult to bear.

‘As my condition has progressed I feel the cold much more,’ says Paul. ‘I think it may be my medication which contributes to me feeling cold.’ 

Our dementia advisers are here for you.

Fuel price frustration

On top of increasing costs, lines of communication have also been a source of frustration. Members of Talking Point have described how their suppliers have suddenly stopped trading, only for their account to be transferred to another supplier with more expensive rates. 

Paul knows people who have tried to contact energy providers to see what was happening when their ‘bill was going up’. However, it was not always easy for them. It was frustrating to be put on hold by the call centre and then be cut off. 

Paul too has had similar experiences with call centres, which is often the only way to contact utilities companies.

‘I would get fed up and hang up.’ he says. ‘At times it can feel like a brick wall.’

Energy in the future 

As the cost of energy bills continues to rise, Paul has been looking to the future and worries about being able to keep warm.

‘I would like to know why isn’t our electricity cheaper when there are wind turbines everywhere? It’s something that needs to be answered. Do they not provide energy direct to the grid? Why are we not seeing this passed on to us? 

‘We are an island nation and the power of water could be used either by the sea, wind or perhaps like mill turbines of the past.’

Are you feeling the cold this winter?

If you have been affected by rising energy prices, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our online community, Talking Point, to share your experience and hear from others.

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