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Call, visit, talk. Make today your someday

Posted on 1st March 2016

It’s ten years since the British actor Bob Hoskins voiced in his inimitable Cockney accent the suggestion that ‘it’s good to talk’.

No surprise that the observation was featured in a BT ad. Of course, it’s good for the communications industry every time that people lift the phone to shoot the breeze, keep in touch, have a chat. Talk to each other. 

But more important, talking to each other is really good for us too. Good for body mind and spirit. Good for our well being, our sense of connection, our physical health. Even the most minimal conversation such as exchanging a good morning on our way to work can give a warmer start to the day. Deeper conversations can be emotionally nourishing, maintain friendships, sort  problems.

For these reasons and more, Third Age has launched Operation Conversation, a public call to promote contact.

Contact can be face-to-face or over the phone. Just as Operation Transformation is helping to get Ireland moving, so Third Age’s Operation Conversation is helping to get Ireland talking – with hopefully equally positive results across all ages. To promote the value of conversation, Operation Conversation wil run for four days launching on Thursday March 3 at The Mill Shopping Centre in Clondalkin. There will be information stands, choirs, raffle, and face painting. RTÉ’s Mary Kennedy is dropping in for a chat, and many of the businesses in the centre are giving their support.

Nationally we invite people to have that conversation at some stage between Thursday, March 3 and Sunday, March 6. There are lots of ways you can get involved:

  • Phone your mum, dad, or grandparents

  • Visit an older neighbour

  • Get in touch with a childhood friend

  • Catch up with a former work colleague

  • Think of the people you’ve been meaning to catch up with ‘Someday’

  • Make this your ‘Someday Day’

We have never been so connected to each other thanks to modern technology, so it may be ironic that for many of Ireland’s older population, life can seem very lonely. Around 136,000 older people in Ireland live alone according to last national census. While loneliness is different from being alone, many older people – already isolated through bereavement, disability or an isolated location – find their solitary lives to be particularly difficult.

We can be lonely at any age, and we don’t have to be old to benefit from human contact. Loneliness is a state of mind, characterised by feelings of sadness, longing, even despair. We are social beings. An isolated daily routine can for make an unhealthy lifestyle, and nudge towards depression and mental illness. It’s now recognised that loneliness can be a silent killer. A European study has linked isolation to mental health problems, including depression and self-harm, and more recently, and nearer to home, a UK survey found that social isolation among older people was associated with increased risk of death. Young people too can feel lonely particularly at times of transition, such as leaving home to go to college often alone in a large anonymous campus.

Contact kills loneliness and Operation Conversation is all about contact – between older people, between young people, between the generations, and within families and neighbourhoods. When placed against the potential destructiveness of loneliness, the value of conversation can be recognised for the powerful tool it is.

Of course, not all conversations are positive. Conversations can include raised voices, rows and arguments, acrimonious debate, gossip, and backbiting. And the twenty-first century has thrown up some strange conversational pairings – your microchipped kettle can now talk to your microchipped toaster so that the bread pops up just when you’re ready to pour the coffee. It’s a dialogue of sorts.

Third Age’s Operation Conversation is promoting a more old-fashioned kind of interaction. The kind that motivates us to find time for each other. The quality of contact that helps us feel the better for it. The realisation that people need people and that reaching out to each other can transform a day in the life. It’s conversation after all that helps make the world go round.

Follow Operation Conversation online #letstalktoday

@thirdageireland

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