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‘Only old ladies would do that’: Age stigma and older people’s strategies for dealing with winter cold


Concerns over the welfare of older people in winter have led to interventions and advice campaigns meant to improve their ability to keep warm, but older people themselves are not always willing to follow these recommendations. In this paper we draw on an in-depth study that followed twenty one older person households in the UK over a cold winter and examined various aspects of their routine warmth-related practices at home and the rationales underpinning them. We find that although certain aspects of ageing did lead participants to feel they had changing warmth needs, their practices were also shaped by the problematic task of negotiating identities in the context of a wider stigmatisation of older age and an evident resistance to ageist discourses. After outlining the various ways in which this was manifest in our study, we conclude by drawing out the implications for future policy and research.