Saturday 22 October 2016

This nation fails to cherish the elderly

Published 23/07/2015 | 02:30

We must look after senior citizens
We must look after senior citizens

I was struck today by the irony of the entire Cabinet heading off to Lissadell. Yeats himself said "that is no country for old men", and never was that assertion truer.

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In the Ireland of today, elderly people are treated with disdain and disregard. I am not even going to mention the appalling reports coming from nursing homes.

I am talking about the various interactions we all have on a daily basis which for elderly people have become impossible without the help of an advocate.

I can back this up with a few examples.

The Fair Deal application which forensically examines five years of bank statements with an accusatory eye, expecting an elderly person who is most likely already in a fragile state to remember every transaction.

The banks that want everyone to deal on the internet or phone and use terminology which is difficult to understand.

The utility companies that have automated phone systems that require you to enter your account number on the keypad and press 1 for this and 2 for that.

An acquaintance of mine contacted the Department of Social Protection to advise of her husband's death. She received a letter advising that his estate would be audited to see if he had been overpaid in his pension. The language was officious.

The bank blocked his account but did not advise that direct debits would be returned unpaid, leading to letters addressed to him from utility and insurance companies saying his bills were unpaid and he risked being cut off.

I could go on and on. Please, please can we look again at the way we treat our elderly? No wonder so many feel they cannot manage in this fast-moving world which seems to have little regard or patience with the slow, confused or frightened.

"Care in the community" was a good idea but needs to focus on the care.

This cannot be just for those with health issues or disabilities, it must be for everyone, by everyone. We are all responsible for making this a place where elderly people can feel cherished and supported.

Name and address with editor


Green with envy of good water

Donough O'Reilly (Letters, Irish Independent, July 21) might receive water through his tap that "goes through a long process to ensure its quality", but he lives in Dublin.

I live in Co Clare, and this is simply not true for the water I receive, which is frequently green or undrinkable. When this disgraceful situation was the responsibility of the county council, they at least had the decency to warn us when there was a potential risk to health from consuming the water.

With Irish Water, this is no longer the case: they warn pubs and local shops but not consumers. During the last "do not drink" notice, I was unaware for several days.

Warning local shops might work in Dublin as a general warning mechanism. It is insufficient for sparsely populated rural areas where a spread-out population might shop in different areas to the source of their domestic water supply.

Living in rural Ireland, being disabled and shopping mainly in a town where the notice did not apply, the risk to my health was simply ignored.

Irish Water's response when I complained was that I should have looked at the website and listened to local radio. So be warned - check Irish Water's website every day before using water and only tune in to local radio and not to national radio (or worse, satellite radio, which is the only kind I can receive). If you don't and get ill from Irish Water's product, it is your own fault.

Incidentally, after I found out about the "do not drink" notice, I telephoned Irish Water for further information. They told me to ring Clare County Council who, they said, were acting as their agents. Clare County Council told me to ring Irish Water. None of the TDs for Clare wanted to know.

Tim McMahon

Ryan, Co Clare


Children's hospital challenge

THE proposal to build the Children's Hospital in Dublin is a continuance of the previous administration's policies, which ensured the destruction of this country's economy and have placed a destructive burden on the people of this country for decades to come.

This centralisation of services comes from spineless governments to placate the vested interests of powerful elites who lobby for these services to be located within their area of practice, for their convenience, and also a capitulation to the growing voting population of Dublin.

This hospital is giving to those within easy reach of Dublin a better chance of survival than children in the outlying areas of this country and placing unnecessary stress on patient and carer trying to travel to the most congested city in Ireland.

This hospital has very little to do with the care of children, but everything to do with the comfort of staff.

The smaller provincial Children's Hospital would be efficient in providing services, and be more convenient to its respective patients, than a huge disease centre in Dublin.

Liam O Conaire

Bruff, Co Limerick


Short-sighted defence savings

There is merit in Simon Coveney's recent White Paper on defence. His department is correct in identifying a growing role for the Army in cyber-surveillance and other non-conventional activities. The decision to replace the Naval Service fleet with nine fit-for-purpose vessels is the least he should do.

But the decision to restrict the Air Corps to a training and helicopter support role is foolhardy. We know from history that an airborne threat to or through Ireland is a real possibility. The decision to leave our skies undefended will not be lost on al-Qaida or its allies.

It's not too late to rethink this flawed strategy. The minister says we cannot afford new expenditure, but the possible consequences of his short-sightedness could cost us dearly.

Patrick Kane

Raheny, Dublin 5


Beach memories

I bought the Irish Independent on Saturday to read about the best beaches. I was surprised to read a description of a beach in Kerry that was used for 'Ryan's Daughter'. It said the film was made in 1975, but I distinctly remember seeing it after my daughter's christening in 1971.

Bernadette Downes

Oxford, England

Irish Independent

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