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Financial abuse, afraid to sleep at night because of being recently burgled, and having to spend much needed cash on fuel this summer are some of the recent calls to Senior Help Line where volumes have increased by 50% for the first five months of 2012. Retirement, family worries, loneliness and isolation are also some of the concerned expressed.
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 busier than ever, currently logging over one thousand calls per month
While calls reflecting loneliness and isolation are a constant theme, there has been a notable theme in callers reporting break-ins in both urban and rural areas. Given that many callers live alone, this leaves them understandably vulnerable and unprotected “I feel afraid to go to sleep at night”, said one caller. Volunteers report an increase in calls from newly retired people who can find themselves at a loss. 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. A number of callers say they are having money stolen from their purse by people working for them, and others are having to spend scarce funds on fuel during this relatively damp and cold summer
Every call to Senior Help Line is confidential. Callers do not have to give their name, or provide any information about themselves they do not wish. “We are there to listen to whatever the caller needs and wants to tell us. It does not matter to us where a caller lives, whether they are married or single, male or female. We know that by calling us people are in need of support, and they are free to confide in us as much or as little as they wish,” says Mary Nally, Senior Help Line, CEO.
“We support all callers. We do not phone others on the caller’s behalf. Callers are sometimes fearful that we will tell their families that they have phoned us. This can never happen because we have access only to details a caller gives us, but more importantly because we regard each call as being confidential between caller and service”, she says. .
Senior Help Line is a national confidential listening service for older people provided by over 350 trained older volunteers. The lines are open from 10 am to 10 pm every day of the year. Its peer to peer dimension – older people listening to older callers is an important aspect of the service, and one appreciated by callers who feel that their lives and concerns are understood particularly well by someone in their age group.
Senior Help Line is a programme of Third Age, a national voluntary organisation committed to promoting the value of older people in their communities. Third Age has over 1,000 older volunteers working throughout Ireland on various national programmes. Third Age also develops and manages a number of local and regional services and programmes.
“Our slogan is ‘if you need to talk, we have time to listen'. 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,” say Mary Nally, adding 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. We would ask 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. If in doubt, reach out,” she says”..
For more information, contact Anne Dempsey, Head of Communications, Third Age, telephone 01-2875304/086-8074529, firstname.lastname@example.org
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