Recent attacks spark rise in helpline calls from scared elderly
OLDER people have grown more fearful of being attacked in their homes following a series of assaults against the elderly.
The charity Third Age has seen an increase in calls to its helpline in recent weeks, which it says is connected with robberies in which older people were targeted.
Anne Dempsey, the charity's head of communications, said yesterday: "We are going to have about 15,000 calls to Senior Help Line this year.
"Whenever there's a burglary or a robbery, there's is a whole frisson of fear which goes around."
Just last month, 67-year-old Eugene Gillespie was tied up and beaten in his Sligo home and left to die. In another recent attack, two elderly brothers were tied up in their Co Galway home and beaten by two men looking for money.
Ms Dempsey said such attacks created "an enormous increase of fear and vulnerability" and made older people feel more isolated.
"Loneliness is linked with fear because if there's a robbery, not even in your own county, you feel immediately very vulnerable -- it's not the actual attack, it's the anticipation and the fear," she said.
She was speaking at Third Age's conference in Croke Park, where delegates were told Europe was at a turning point in demographics.
It is estimated that by 2020, one in four people in Ireland will be over the age of 60.
Ms Dempsey said: "We would encourage neighbours to reach out. Older people can become invisible because maybe you don't know someone well or they seem very quiet. I think if people get that encouragement to reach out they will do it."
Third Age's Lo-Call number is 1850 440 444.