Tuesday 1 September 2015

Loneliness, cash woes push elderly to phone for help

Emma Jane Hade

Published 15/04/2014 | 02:30

The Senior Helpline is receiving many calls from older lonely people
The Senior Helpline is receiving many calls from older lonely people

MORE than 2,000 elderly people a month are contacting a helpline over financial woes and loneliness.

Senior Helpline – which is operated by the elderly advocate organisation Third Age – have been inundated with calls from vulnerable elderly people in the last three months.

The voluntary organisation reported yesterday that they had received 6,301 calls since January – just over 2,000 each month since the start of the year.

The organisation, which operates on a strictly confidential basis, said that many of the reasons behind the calls that they receive are concerns over "the cost of living, cuts to services, instances of elder abuse and feelings of suicide".

WORRIES

"Regardless of age, we all have problems and worries," Aine Brady, CEO of Senior Helpline, said.

"It is important to have an outlet, someone to talk to and share those worries with."

The organisation believes that the unprecedented high volume of calls they have received comes down to the "challenges that older people are facing", despite it being a "hopeful time of year".

Eamon Timmins, head of advocacy at Age Action Ireland, echoed these claims, and said that many elderly people in society were feeling more isolated than ever before.

"We have just finished a national consultation and it is a listening exercise where we go around the country.

"There is a lot of anxiety out there. Anxiety about the future, new charges, and people's ability to pay them on fixed income and fixed pensions," he explained.

"There is a lot of isolation and emigration is really taking its toll.

"Younger people are the Olympic losers in emigration but older people who would have been depending on them are being left behind, and in serious situations."

He said research carried out by Age Action Ireland had also found that strides and advances in digital technology were also making things more difficult for elderly people, and were "making it harder for people to stay involved in their communities".

The Senior Helpline spokesperson said that they have been in operation for 16 years, and are now looking to expand their peer to peer listening services.

They are currently recruiting volunteers in the Dublin area.

Irish Independent

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