12,000 calls to elderly helpline

More than 12,000 isolated and lonely older people called the Senior Helpline in the first six months of this year looking for assistance.

Third Age, which manages the helpline, said the high volume of calls highlights the vulnerability and isolation felt by many older people, and the need and demand for the peer-to-peer telephone listening service.

Concerns raised by elderly people contacting the service include the cost of living, cuts to services, instances of elder abuse and suicidal thoughts.

Many callers felt lonely and isolated. The group said that for many people, Senior Helpline is their only point of contact, providing help and support for those in real need.

The changing nature of relationships was a key concern — particularly in families. For some, family had begun to distance themselves as older people were seen as an inconvenience. In other cases, family members placed unreasonable demands, often looking for money, or an excessive babysitting service from grandparents.

Senior Helpline provides a listening service for older people for the price of a local call anywhere in Ireland. The peer-to-peer service helps create empathy for the caller on the issues that they face and can help them to open up and discuss their problems more easily.

Commenting on the high level of calls in the first half of the year, CEO of Third Age Áine Brady said the helpline was providing an outlet to lonely and isolated elderly people.

“People call us for many reasons. Whatever the reason, it is important that they have an outlet to talk to other people when they need it. Many older people find themselves alone and isolated. With no one to share a burden or a moment of laughter.

“We invite any older person who is worried about issues concerning health, family, loneliness or any other matter to call us on 1850 440 444,” she said.

lSenior Helpline is a confidential listening service for older people by trained older volunteers for the price of a local call anywhere in Ireland — LoCall 1850 440 444. The lines are open every day from 10am to 10pm.

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