The Carers’ Association have expressed outrage at the decision of the Department of the Environment to cut the senior alert scheme budget by over half, from €2.24m in 2012 to €1.15m this year.
The scheme, which is seen as vital to helping and encouraging older people to live in their own homes, provides monitored alarms and pendants to elderly people living alone. The department provided €8.3m to fund the scheme over the past three years. This enabled 23,686 people to avail of the personal alarms and pendants. But henceforth funding will only be available to persons over 65 living alone.
This will be widely seen as another example of hitting the most vulnerable in society, especially after the attack last week on the 96-year-old woman living alone, near Aghilly, Co Donegal. She was able to use her alarm to contact gardaí, after she was attacked at home.
Cutting back on the safety of elderly people at risk — especially when they are not tackling some of the more obvious abuses — breeds enormous cynicism and undermines the confidence necessary for government to function properly.