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Latest news on senior health, wealth and lifestyles – October 2020

Vitamin D and coronavirus

In this issue we report on:

  • State pension age
  • Pension credit
  • Support for care homes in the pandemic
  • Insurance costs
  • Preventing Covid-19 infection
  • Dementia in the family
  • Care costs cap
  • Smart meter problems
  • Intergenerational living


Pensions and allowances

The state pension age rises on Oct 6th 2020. From that date you will not be able to claim state pension until you are 66.

If all the seniors who are eligible for pension credit actually took it up, almost 40,000 people could be lifted out of poverty, says research by Loughborough University, commissioned by the charity Independent Age. The Department of Works and Pensions says it encourages anyone who thinks they might be eligible to visit gov.uk/pension-credit. A claim can be made online or by calling the free claim line on 0800 991 234.

Care homes

Care homes remain in turmoil as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The UK government has said that care homes in England will receive over half a million pounds in extra funding to try to reduce the transmission of the virus. The money is intended to help pay workers while they are self-isolating, and ensure care workers only work in one home, in an effort to reduce transmission.  The government has pledged to provide an uninterrupted supply of Personal Protective Equipment to health and social care staff this winter, but home care directors have said that while they welcome the news, experience had taught them to greet it with some scepticism.


Good news for those who tend to stay with the same insurer for their homes and vehicles for years, rather than provider hopping at each renewal. The Financial Conduct Authority has announced that is to ban pricing that penalises loyal insurance customers, probably from the second half of 2021. The Authority also wants providers to make it easier to cancel automatic renewals. The Which? consumer service gives advice about savings and shopping around.

Covid-19 prevention strategies

Asking over-65s to shield in the face of a potential second wave of Covid-10 is ‘age-based apartheid’, says the head of NHS England, Sir Simon Stevens. Some experts argue that a targeted lockdown would reduce the death toll while protecting the economy, but Sir Simon disagrees. He believes that even if older people were staying at home, the most vulnerable would be getting help from people who are mixing with a variety of age groups, and transmission would still ripple up to the older age group.

According to GP Online, the first Covid-19 vaccinations will target care home residents and staff, followed by health and social care workers, together with those over 80. However, the advice could change at any time, depending on how the virus is spreading and how well the vaccination is being tolerated within the target group.

Almost 300,000 people have opened an online tool to check their risk of type 2 diabetes since it was launched two months ago. The tool was fast-tracked to completion after it was discovered that Covid-10 was twice as likely to be fatal for those with Type 3 diabetes as for those who didn’t have the condition. The tool, hosted by Diabetes UK, analyses risk as a result of answers to a series of questions, and if the score comes back adequately high, people can refer themselves to a local service for support remotely or online, without having to go through a healthcare professional.

Meanwhile two new studies have determined that sufficient levels of Vitamin D can reduce infection rates and reduce the possibility of complications and death from Covid-19. Vitamin D levels are easier to maintain during the summer when people can enjoy the sunshine, but it could be wise to take supplements in the winter, says one expert.

Family history and dementia

A family history of dementia is not an absolute indicator of future diagnosis, according to research from Boston University. Good cardiovascular health also has a part to play in the likelihood of developing dementia. The study suggests that while a dementia-associated gene can double the potential to develop dementia, good heart health can half that risk.

Care cap

What’s happening with the much-discussed cap on the cost of social care in England? First proposed in the Dilnott report in 2014, the idea was being revisited earlier this year, before the arrival of the coronavirus. A new survey has found that more than half of over 45s support the idea of a care cap, but there is reportedly little confidence that the challenge of social care costs will be addressed in this Parliament.

Smart meters

Beware the installation of smart meters for central heating boilers. One customer was left with a non-functioning boiler after having a meter installed, and apparently it took the intervention of a national newspaper to persuade the service provider to address the problem. Experts say that boilers shouldn’t be affected in this way if they are functioning properly.

Intergenerational living

The name is contentious, but the Lodgers for Codgers programme aimed to bring together young and older people under one roof. It’s an initiative that’s been aired on Channel 4, but it doesn’t rate well with TV reviewer Lucy Mangan, who argues it’s low on insight and full of cultural clashes. That said, there are inter-generational homeshare schemes across the country which are proving to be worthwhile in giving young people somewhere to stay and reducing the isolation of older people.

Photo by Matt on Unsplash

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Valerie Bradley
Valerie Bradley
3 years ago

I wonder why research has not been done,about the illegal charges for social care, do the old age charities.raise this with the press Let me explain, we are encouraged to claim pension credit,and disability benefits as our health problems relate in extra costs sometimes as high as over £500 a month,but most old people do not know if you require social care,the extra money recieved in pension credit,and disability benefits,are all swallowed up in unfair social care charging In 1999 pamela Coughlan won her case in the appeal court that ,her care was healthcare,and that only social care that is… Read more »

Rosamund Ridley
Rosamund Ridley
3 years ago

Vitamin D, access to the outside world, and better resistance to Covid ?

Many older people affected by lifelong disabilities such as cerebral palsy live in sheltered accommodation – including an older member of our family. Briefly, in the summer, some visiting was allowed, but by one family member only. Then the window closed, but – with questionable logic- we would be able to see our relative outside. ( both in Tier 1)
Unclear, from day to day, whether we may travel in the same car, but older people in this position have very little access to the outside world.

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