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Schemes available for older people

26th June 2015

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

As we get older it can be where life starts for many. The kids have grown up and can now fend for themselves, you’re retired and able to do what you want when you want, but there are some downsides to older life.

While there are countless aids around like walk in easy access showers and similar to make home living more comfortable; as well as reduced mobility, with age comes extra costs. From care costs to energy bills, it can all get quite expensive, especially if you are relying on a pension. Thankfully there are numerous schemes and grants in place for just this reason to help make life that bit easier and more enjoyable in your silver years.

Energy bills

First off is energy bills. As we get older we might need the heating on a little more but this can incur huge costs that you just might not be able to afford. Most people know about the government’s winter fuel payments scheme, where if you were born on or before the 5th January 1953 you are entitled to £100-£300 tax-free towards your heating bills, but there are many other schemes out there that can help.

If you are receiving fuel allowance as a part of the National Fuel Scheme and live in Ireland than you can also qualify for the Better Energy Warmer Homes grant. This grant is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and looks to provide funds to make energy efficiency improvements to homes of the elderly and vulnerable. This will save the homeowner money on their energy bills as it makes their home more energy efficient.

The SEAI also runs the Better Energy Homes Scheme, which runs similarly to that of the Warmer Homes Scheme, check their website to see if you qualify for these grants.

Another way of saving money on your energy bills is to make sure that you are with the right provider. Money comparison sites can help no end in this area and Money Saving Expert’s Cheap Energy Club is a great initiative that continually looks to save you money. They work by doing a full market comparison to find you the best price and, unlike other money comparison sites, by signing up to the energy club they will constantly monitor your tariff and alert you when it is time to switch based on your current details to get you the best price.

IT help

As with most money saving schemes and grants, finding out about them and applying for them usually require a minimum amount of IT knowledge. While some of the older generation take to computers and tablets almost instantly, it doesn’t come naturally to us all and could see such people missing out on huge savings as a result.

So it stands to reason that, in order to take advantage of such grants, it is worth getting some help learning basic IT skills. Learn My Way is a website full of free online courses for beginners, helping individuals develop digital skills and make the most of being online. They help from the very basics such as learning how to use a mouse right through to internet banking and shopping. If it all seems a little daunting they even have over 5,000 UK online centres based around the country to ensure you can receive a bit of human help should you need it.

Another way of getting online without feeling daunted is through Breezie – ‘the internet made easy’. Breezie is the personalised, intuitive system that is specially designed for people who are less familiar or confident with technology. The software is supplied complete with a Samsung tablet computer, offering the easiest way to get online and connect with friends, families and hobbies. Breezie offers a simple and easy to use interface stripping the typical internet content from its complicated and unnecessary features so that you use the internet straight away without having to learn too many complicated features.

Care and support

As we get older it is natural to need a bit of extra care and support every now again. Rather than trying to struggle without, it is always best to enlist an extra pair of hands when you need to avoid doing any damage to yourself or family should you suffer a fall or similar. You may think that this type of care can be costly but there are plenty of grants out there that look to help you cover the costs.

The first of such help is the government themselves. Anyone who is physically or mentally disabled and over the age of 65 is entitled to £55.10 or £82.30 Attendance Allowance a week to help pay for personal care. If you are receiving government benefits they could increase if you get Attendance Allowance so be sure to check a benefits calculator to ensure you are receiving the right entitlement.

Another way of receiving a bit of extra help at home is through the Royal Voluntary Service’s Good Neighbours initiative. Proving valuable company and friendship as well as making sure that the older person is safe and well, Good Neighbours helps those whose family is too far away to check in on them regularly and provides light assistance and company to those who need it.

Finally, there are a number of care services that can help you get in and out of bed, bathe and wash, prepare meals etc. in your own home. Age UK has a full list of the help that is on offer through your local council and they have even created a video, shown below, that details exactly how to arrange care at home.

Mobility aids and house adaptation

As we get older stairlifts and other such aids become a necessity in order to stay independent and mobile in our own homes. While there are many good value stairlifts on offer these days from reputable providers, if you are on a low income or pension, the cost may be a bit much for you in one hit.

Thankfully there are grants that can help with the cost of such aids. The Disabled Facilities Grant from the government helps with costs if you are disabled and need to make changes to your home such as widen doorways and install ramps, improve access to rooms and facilities with stairlifts or a downstairs bathroom, provide a heating system or adapt heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use.

The government also offers garden maintenance help for elderly or disabled council tenants, you must contact your local council to find out whether they offer this service.

Other benefits, grants and resources

Finally, this is just a selection of the grants and schemes on offer for older people to help with costs and daily life. Turn2us is the national charity that helps people in financial hardship gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services. They have a whole range of information on support and services for older people from their own benefits calculator to their own grants search function.

Image Credit: Kevin D, Andrew Malone (flickr.com)

This content was written by Emily Bray. Please feel free to visit my Google + profile to read more stories.