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'Look after the elderly' is the message as temperatures are set to plummet

By The Citizen  |  Posted: January 22, 2013

  • care: Roy Fellows (left) and Tom Jones with Frances Roberts at the Acorns Day Centre in Stroud, which supports lonely elderly people.

  • efforts: Postman Paul Johnson struggles through snow in Ruardean.

  • descent: Lizzie Corbett and her father Robin Ingall prepare to ski down Cam Peak near Dursley.

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WITH temperatures predicted to fall to -6C, people are being reminded to be good neighbours.

Citizen weather expert Ian Thomas said temperatures would dip well below freezing this week and could reach -6C tomorrow night, accompanied by freezing fog. There is a chance of an inch or two of snow returning to the county today.

Councillor Andrew Gravells, Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "People need to look out for each other and check on their elderly neighbours.

"This is particularly important for those who might be cut off in rural areas, but people in busy towns can feel isolated too.

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"We would ask milkmen and postmen to check on people on their rounds. It can be very lonely for people who can normally get out and about but who are temporarily housebound – just knowing that someone is there to help if necessary can remove a lot of worry and anxiety."

Gloucestershire's Village and Community Agents are checking people are comfortable, warm and well.

WRVS, which cooks and delivers hot meals on behalf of the county council from its kitchens in Stonehouse and Cheltenham, has been operating across the county and contacting people who cannot be reached to ensure they are safe and have enough food.

Life came to a standstill in rural areas this weekend with up to six inches of snow falling in the Forest of Dean.

While many families grabbed the opportunity to have some fun, some elderly residents were marooned.

Christina Snell, chief executive of Age UK Gloucestershire, said: "This is just the sort of weather that increases the risk of illness among older people, particularly heart attacks, strokes and breathing problems. The longer someone is exposed to cold, the more at risk they are."

Around 50 people with injuries from slips and falls were treated in the emergency departments at Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals this weekend – double the usual number.

These included some adults with ankles and wrists broken while sledging.

Maggie Arnold, director of nursing, said: "When older people fall they are generally at greater risk of breaking a hip, for example, and can suffer more ongoing problems then younger people might. If we can all help to avoid any unnecessary injuries that would be great."

■ Your big freeze snaps pages 16 &17

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