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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 16 December, 2019
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'Christmas can be a very lonely time of the year': People asked to look out for the elderly this winter

The advice comes as part of the Dublin City Council and Alone’s cold weather initiative.

Paul Hynes
Paul Hynes
Image: Jason Clarke

“CHRISTMAS CAN BE a very lonely time of the year for some people, it can be a very sad time of the year for some people as well.” 

Paul Hynes lives alone in rented accommodation.

Earlier this year, Hynes fell ill and was admitted to Clontarf Hospital. Here, a social worker determined that his living situation was somewhat unsuitable for his needs. 

He was then placed on Dublin City Council’s housing waiting list, along with Alone’s housing waiting list. Alone is the charity that supports older people to age at home.

In Ireland, one-third of people over the age of 65 live alone, rising to 60% for those over the age of 80. A striking one in 10 older people suffer from chronic loneliness.

Alone works with those who have issues with loneliness, social isolation, lack of services, poor health, poverty and homelessness. It offers a befriending service, where older people living alone are paired up with a volunteer who provides regular home visits.

Along with being placed on Alone’s housing list, one of the charity’s volunteers now visits Hynes on a weekly basis. 

“It’s a great relief to know that there are so many people who will try to look after you,” Hynes told TheJournal.ie today. 

He added that he appreciates the visits as “you get different viewpoints and different ideas” from the volunteers.

This will be the first year Hynes has had Alone’s support during the Christmas period. 

While he has a friend to visit on Christmas Day, Hynes said he appreciates the extra company he will have in the next few weeks. 

“If a relief, people shouldn’t be alone, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year,” Hynes said. 

When asked whether he has advice for older people who may be nervous of reaching out and asking for support, he said: “My advice is reach out, ask for help. I try to join as much things as I possibly can.”

Hynes said that Alone don’t judge anyone. “They’re not going to say anything to you at all, just join in and enjoy yourself,” he said. 

Hynes was speaking at the launch of Dublin City Council and Alone’s cold weather campaign this afternoon. 

The charity is calling on people to look out for older people in their community this winter.

It is also encouraging older people to prioritise their spending on heating during the winter months. 

“People shouldn’t be alone and I would imagine if they were and if they got a visitor on Christmas Day it would mean a hell of a lot to them,” Hynes said. 

It can be a very lonely time of the year for some people, it can be a very sad time of the year for some people as well. 

He added that “it’s very important, especially in the winter months, for somebody to pop in” to visit their older neighbours. 

For those who have concerns about their own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person in their community, Alone can be contacted on 01 679 1032.

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