Survey: 33% believe elderly are seen as burden

Ireland is no country for old men and women, suggests a survey in which 33% of people said they believe the elderly are regarded as a burden on society.

The Senior Help Line National survey also showed that 40% of respondents believe older people are ignored or not listened to, and that one fifth of people questioned believe older people are undervalued.

The survey was conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes for the Senior Help Line, which is operated by Third Age.

It also questioned older people on how they felt they are perceived, with more than 25% of those aged over-55 claiming they felt older people were undervalued, while 45% in the same age category said they felt older people were seen as a burden on society and their views are ignored.

However, while many older people felt they were often dismissed by society in general, they have a much more positive view of themselves. Overall, 94% of those surveyed described themselves as independent, 93% described themselves as happy, while 85% saw themselves as active people.

Despite the air of positivity among older people, Áine Brady, CEO of Third Age, said the overall findings were “very worrying”.

“It is important that all citizens in the state are respected and that their voices are heard.

“If this very robust survey is to be believed, this may not be the case and older people are potentially not being given a voice in modern Ireland.

“These findings suggest that there may be a big gap between how society sees older people and the reality of the lives that they live. Older people are active and independent, but may not be treated as such. This can lead to them being further under-valued and disenfranchised in society.”

The survey of more than 1,000 people was carried out last month.

The number of calls to the Senior Helpline averages about 1,100 per month — slightly up on last year.

Ms Brady said many of the callers are living alone and some can go for days without contact from others, with loneliness and health issues the main concerns.

* The Senior Help Line, LoCall 1850 440 444, is open every day from 10am until 10pm.

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