Some older people turning off fridges and cutting back on meat as cost-of-living crisis hits, Alone says

Charity warns against allowing age to become a ‘battleground’ in talk over cost of living surges

Many older people face a “critical” situation this winter and the Government must take urgent action in the budget to protect them from “unsustainable” cost of living increases, the Alone organisation has said.

Seán Moynihan, chief executive of the older persons’ charity, also warned against “pitting younger people against older people” and allowing age to become “a battleground” in the conversation on the cost of living crisis.

A survey by Alone of the older people it works with shows that nine in 10 are most concerned about heating and energy bills, followed by food prices; almost three quarters are “very” or “extremely” concerned about the cost of living and almost two-thirds are worrying about struggling to pay bills.

The charity wants the budget to be a “turning point” and, in its pre-budget submission, called for minimum €20 weekly increase in the state pension, the living alone allowance, and the fuel allowance.


It wants further measures across social protection, health, and housing to support older people throughout the winter and into 2023.

Several people who took part in Alone’s anonymous survey voiced worry and fear about their future as they got older. One said: “I fear that I won’t be able to heat my home and afford to eat come winter” and another said they were “frightened for the first time in my life at the costs”.

Of those surveyed, some two-thirds said the budget should “reduce costs like energy” and “increase payments to more vulnerable members of society”.

Alone has received reports of older people turning off their fridges, not using gas cookers anymore because the costs are too high, cutting back on basics like meals with meat, and washing powder, and fearing they may be unable to afford to use their storage heaters this winter.

Mr Moynihan said older people’s difficulties have been steadily increasing in recent years and the situation has now become “critical” and “unsustainable” for many.

People aged 65 and older were the only group to see increases across all three poverty rates between 2020 and 2021, he said. “Older people have been promised better than this, and so far, that promise hasn’t been kept.”

He also said “some of the conversation in recent days has pitted younger people against older people”.

“We must not let age become a battleground.

“We believe that everyone should have a decent standard of living, including older people.”

Roughly 92,000 older people are living in or at risk of poverty in Ireland today and older people living alone have the lowest median income of all households, he said.

“No one should find this acceptable. The stereotype of all older people as being wealthy and secure is not reflective of the population today, nor will it be reflective in the years to come.”

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times