Helpline for elderly sees calls soar 50%

A helpline for the elderly has experienced its busiest Christmas and New Year period since it was established, with pensioners expressing concern about issues such as finances and the emigration of children and grandchildren.

The Senior Helpline logged in the region of 15,000 calls in 2012, up 50% on the previous year.

Anne Dempsey, head of communications at Third Age in Meath, which runs the Senior Helpline, said loneliness, cuts to home help hours, and depression are among issues that lead older people to seek help.

“We are waiting on figures for Christmas but it has been busier than ever before,” said Ms Dempsey.

“We have had a lot of our regular callers who depend on us like a lifeline. We had people calling who were on their own for Christmas. One woman said she spent Christmas day in bed. People are calling with depression. They are very low because their families who had emigrated are gradually going back. People are also worried about increased fuel charges and their finances.”

The helpline also got calls from pensioners who were confused about Saorview and were without their television programmes over the holiday period because of changes to the system.

Senior Helpline is a national confidential listening service for older people run by trained older volunteers.

The service was developed and administered by the Third Age Foundation, a community organisation working for the empowerment of older people. It was established in 1998, when 200 calls were received.

Callers do not have to provide any information about themselves. The lines are open from 10am to 10pm every day. It is provided for the price of a local call anywhere in Ireland.

* 1850 440 444

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