Loneliness a growing problem

Impact of loneliness is increasing.
ACCORDING to a helpline operating in Naas, the impact of loneliness is taking an increasing toll on older people in society. Statistics from the Senior Help Line (SHL) call centre reveal that in the last quarter of 2012, 32% of calls related to loneliness, rural isolation and minimum social contact.

ACCORDING to a helpline operating in Naas, the impact of loneliness is taking an increasing toll on older people in society. Statistics from the Senior Help Line (SHL) call centre reveal that in the last quarter of 2012, 32% of calls related to loneliness, rural isolation and minimum social contact.

SHL provides a confidential listening service for older people by trained older volunteers for the price of a local call anywhere in Ireland (1850-440444). The purpose of the service is for older people to receive an empathic response on a variety of issues. The service is confidential, however Senior Help Line have identified particular trends in the calls that they received in the last quarter of last year.

“Many callers to our Naas service are older people living alone. Some callers can go for days without contact from other people. That kind of isolation can be terribly cruel and can have a detrimental effect on a person’s wellbeing. In November over half of calls to the centre were because of loneliness,” according to Mary Nally, founder of voluntary organisation Third Age which founded and manages Senior Help Line.

“A quarter of calls in the last quarter of 2012 were related to health concerns. This includes physical, mental wellbeing and stress. Older people are more prone to illness and they have concerns about health issues. Although we would never give advice on health matters, the very act of talking to someone can help ease the anxiety for callers.

- Paul O’Meara