Thursday 23 February 2017

Death of pensioner prompts charity's appeal for elderly

Fergus Black

MORE than 30 years after Dublin fireman Willie Bermingham discovered the body of a man who died alone, the charity he founded has appealed to the public to keep a close watch on vulnerable older people.

Alone, which launched its Christmas campaign, 'Don't Leave it to Others!' yesterday, is urging the public to give just one hour of their time this month to help out an older person in their community.

The appeal came as a community was mourning the tragic death of pensioner Donal O'Connell (81) from Doonagh, Milford, Co Cork. It is thought the elderly farmer may have died from exposure after getting disorientated. Mr O'Connell, who had been missing for two days, was discovered dead by his car. It is feared he got lost and drove his car into a field where it got stuck -- and that he then fell while trying to make it back onto a roadway.

Alone chief executive Sean Moynihan said the simplest tasks like calling in to say hello, "dipping" an oil tank to check if an elderly neighbour had enough home heating fuel or changing the batteries in their smoke alarm could make a huge difference to a person's life.

"With the weather closing in this week, we can see people starting to struggle and our main aim is to ensure they have enough heat, food and access to their medications," he said.

Siobhan Farrell from Dublin, one of Alone's volunteers, said regular contact with vulnerable older people was their lifeline.

"I have been volunteering for the past four years and I visit my guest, an elderly woman, every week. She lives alone and I like to keep up with everything that happens to her during the week," she said.

"While conditions have improved over the years, we are still finding houses in the heart of Dublin that have no heat," she added.

Alone has has an emergency helpline to deal with concerns during current weather conditions. Members of the public can contact (01) 6791032 and the charity has 19 volunteers and staff ready to act on requests for help.

Irish Independent

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