Latest figures reveal 42% increase in number of older people using befriending service

ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, released its 2016 Annual Report today which showed a 42% increase in the number of people availing of ALONE’s Befriending Service.

In 2016, 4,500 people were supported by befriending services nationwide, an increase of 42%. ALONE’s Befriending Service provides companionship to older people who are socially isolated or experiencing through a weekly volunteer visit as well as a range of social events.

Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, said that as an organisation that works with older people thr group saw first hand the effects of loneliness.

"I don’t think that people are aware just how devastating loneliness can be for your general health. Not only can loneliness lead to depression, but it is also a predictor for dementia, cardiovascular disease and decreased immune system responsivity. As we enter the winter, calls for support dramatically increase and loneliness is one of the main issues that older people in Ireland are facing today.”

Other key findings in the 2016 ALONE Annual Report include:

· 937 older people were supported by ALONE support coordination service

· 108 older people were housed in ALONE housing with supports

· ALONE volunteers provided 46,800 hours

· 1 in 10 older people require support beyond homecare to live at home[1], which represents 66,000 people

· By 2046 the number of over 65s will increase by 225%

· By 2046 the number of over 80s will increase by 375%

· By 2022, ALONE plan to support 20,000 older people directly (14,000 older people indirectly)

· By 2022, ALONE aim to grow frontline volunteers from 700 to 7,000

The report also echoed last week’s ESRI report which stated that the demand for healthcare is projected to increase substantially with rapid growth and ageing of Ireland’s population.

Moynihan continued: “As last week’s ESRI report stated, the demand for home help care and for residential and intermediate care places in nursing homes and other settings is projected to increase by up to 54 per cent by 2030. ALONE believe that right to home care is a major part of solving the impending demand on healthcare, as older people are being forced to remain in acute hospital beds due to lack of supports to go home.”

In 2016, 20% of older people had issues with home adaptations and 10% were unable to keep their home warm.[2] These numbers highlight the lack of housing choices and supports for older people in the community. ALONE believes that Ireland’s impending ageing demographic requires a move away from traditional models of care towards alternative models that harness community resources. Since 2016, the charity has been developing a technology platform, in partnership with NetwellCASALA, that supports older people to age well at home and is operated through mobile apps and home sensors.

Moynihan continued: “Our services offer a range of supports to enable older people to live independently and we have worked for many years to ensure these services are of the highest standards. We have achieved 3 quality awards because we know that the older people we work with deserve quality services. We also are passionate about transparency and accountability, and submit our annual reports to the Charities Regulator.”

He concluded: “In the last four years ALONE has doubled in size, the demand for our services has tripled, the number of volunteers has tripled and we have introduced new services to support older people to age at home, both directly and indirectly. In 2016, we also teamed up with other age sector charities to campaign and consult with the government to ensure the needs of older people are met. Prioritising the needs of our older people is something that we would like to see the government and general public take an interest in as inevitably we all grow older and the decisions we make now will impact us later.”

For those who have concerns about their own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of a vulnerable older person in the community, ALONE can be contacted on (01) 679 1032 or at alone.ie


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