Nearly a quarter (24%) of seniors believe they will be forced to choose between heating their home and the food they buy if their energy bills rise substantially.
More than half (54%) of those surveyed said they would need to heat their home less, according to a survey by Age UK.
And just over two-fifths (43%) said they would have to cut back, take on debt or just couldn’t pay their bill, according to research among people 65 and older.
Inflation jumped to a nearly 30-year high of 5.4% in December and the energy price cap will rise in the spring, possibly increasing bills by 50%, according to predictions.
A 69-year-old woman told Age UK: “I’m in bed warming myself today because it’s so cold and I can’t afford to have the heating on all day.
“I’m reduced to showering every other day, which I hate, and I’m eating microwaveable food to avoid heating up my oven.”
Age UK warned that many older people are missing out on extra income, as well as vital support such as cold weather payments and the warm homes discount programme, because they do not receive a pension credit, despite being eligible.
He said many low-income seniors don’t know they qualify for the Pension Credit, and a successful claim opens the door to a wide range of other supports, including help with energy bills.
As part of its The Cost Of Cold campaign, Age UK is urging any older person with low or modest incomes who is struggling with their bills to have a full benefit check.
People can call the charity’s advice line on freephone 0800 169 65 65, contact their local Age UK office or visit www.ageuk.org.uk.
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK Charity Director, said: “Many older people rely on state pension as their main source of income and simply don’t have the flexibility in their finances to cope with such huge price increases.
“At Age UK, we are contacted every day by desperate older people in this role, people for whom there are only ‘bad choices’: ration their energy consumption, cut back on food or other essentials, or go into debt.”
He added: “Any seniors struggling to pay their bills, or worried about staying warm, can call us today; helping you file a successful claim could make a difference.
“There’s really no harm in making sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to, so come on in and let us help make sure.”
A government spokesman said: “We know this has been a difficult time for many people, so we are providing around £12bn worth of support this financial year and next to help households across the country with the cost of living.
“Our winter fuel payments are supporting more than 11 million retirees with their energy bills and we continue to encourage those eligible for the Pension Credit, and the wide range of other benefits it can provide, to file a claim.” .
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.