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Charity says older people ringing its helpline 'becoming increasingly distressed by the impact of cocooning'

The majority of calls to Alone’s helpline last week related to social isolation and loneliness.

Image: Shutterstock/mrmohock

IN THE PAST 10 days, 62% of requests for support to the Alone charity’s Covid-19 helpline were in relation to social isolation and loneliness.

As the weeks go by, older people using the helpline are becoming increasingly distressed by the impact of cocooning, Alone said.

The organisation has also seen a huge increase in the number of calls they are receiving in relation to suicidal ideation, increasing from 2-3 calls per to week to 3-4 calls per day.

The government has acknowledged that many people are having a “difficult time” as we live under the restrictions put in place to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

In announcing additional funding for mental health supports yesterday, the Department of Health said since the pandemic restrictions began there had been an increase of 44% in contacts to young people’s organisation SpunOut and a tenfold growth in people seeking online counselling through MyMind.

As part of the restrictions – which last until 5 May at the earliest – persons over the age of 70 have been urged to remain at home at all times. These measures have been in place since 27 March. 

Alone today renewed its calls for a national strategy on loneliness in order to tackle the issue on a long-term basis, both during the pandemic and after it has subsided.

Since its dedicated Covid-19 helpline launched in March, it has received over 16,000 calls. More than 70% of the older people who have contacted Alone in the past week are living alone. 

The charity’s CEO Seán Moynihan said: “We are encouraging any older person who is struggling with their mental wellbeing at this time to get in touch with us and other support services. For many, these difficulties are directly linked to the impact of Covid-19 and cocooning.

Loneliness is a common issue, and long term we need a strategy to combat loneliness across all age groups. Support is available to help to manage and overcome these difficulties.

Alone regularly follows up with individuals who call their helpline to check that they’re staying safe and have the supports they need. This service will continue after the current crisis is over.

Alone’s support line is available to all older people, and those who have concerns about an older person close to them, Monday-Friday, 8am-8pm, on 0818 222 024

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Sean Murray

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