A HELPLINE FOR older people has seen a 50 per cent increase in calls in a year, with some callers saying they are afraid to sleep at night.
The Senior Helpline is run by Third Age, a national voluntary organisation committed to promoting the value of older people in their communities.
It said that some callers are afraid after being recently burgled, while others said that the bad weather this summer has meant spending much-needed cash on fuel.
The numbers of older people phoning the Senior Help Line LoCall number 1850 440 444 between January and May this year rose to 6,000, compared to 4,000 for the same period last year.
Senior Help Line is currently logging over 1,000 calls per month.
“Our slogan is ‘if you need to talk, we have time to listen’,” said Mary Nally, CEO of Senior Help Line.
Some people may feel there is no point in phoning a help line if they are worried or in trouble, and wonder how we could help. But very many callers tell us that talking things over with us does help. Feeling you are not alone with a problem, realising that someone cares enough to listen can be of real benefit, and also help you to see things in a new light.
Many of the callers live alone, and there has been a “notable theme” in callers reporting break-ins in both urban and rural areas. Third Age explained:
Callers are also phoning with a wide variety of financial worries, from concerns about savings and investments, fears for the financial position of their adult children, as well as worries over their own pension in the light of increasing charges.
The calls are confidential and the service is provided by over 350 trained volunteers from between 10am – 10pm every day of the year.
The peer-to-peer dimension, where older people listen to older callers, is an important aspect of the service.
Nally said that the summertime can be particularly lonely for some older people.
Many of the supports available the rest of the year, from family, friends, neighbours and the statutory services can be absent for a period during the summer as people are away on holiday. The older person can feel very alone.
She urged people to think of an older person on their road and phone or drop in to make sure they are alright. ”Don’t assume that someone else is doing it.”
She said that her message to older people is: ”If in doubt, reach out”.