Our neighbour, a widower, lives alone. He is not keen on having regular help, but likes us to drop in. We feel that his house is much too cold, but he doesn't complain about it. What can we do to help? He has tablets for his heart, but we're not sure he is taking them.
Try to convince him that he is at risk, because he may not feel the difference in temperature. Our sense of heat and cold tends to diminish with age, even when we are healthy, and medication may make the loss worse, particularly if people have heart problems. With lower temperature comes forgetfulness and even confusion, so he may forget his pills. That can be crucial if he has to take aspirin to prevent clots. We know 75- to 84-year-olds with heart disease who don't take their aspirin are at highest risk of a heart attack on cold days, so make sure he takes them. Keeping up his body heat means more than wrapping up in warm clothing – he needs a warm room and hot meals. Can you and other neighbours visit him at least once a day?
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Photograph: Aaron Tilley for the Guardian