ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, is highlighting the dangerous effects of loneliness being felt by older people in lieu of Loneliness Awareness Week.
The Loneliness Taskforce have remarked that they wish to raise awareness of Loneliness in June each year as they advance towards their goals. ALONE is similarly campaigning for members of the public to reach out to an older neighbour, friend, relative or someone they don’t really know that well in order to #ChangeOneDay.
ALONE encourage members of the public to get involved in this campaign to change one person’s day by reaching out to an older person in their lives and encouraging others to do the same. Using the catchy reminder to, ‘Call 1 – Nominate 1 – Change 1’ – call one older person, nominate a friend to do the same, and change one person’s day for the better.
The organisation are encouraging those who participate to post a creative selfie or photo of themselves either on a phone call, on a FaceTime call with an older person, or a physical, safe visit in-person and post them to social media with the hashtag #ChangeOneDay. Remembering to tag ALONE in posts. Once you have done so, nominate another person to do the same and start the cogs turning in combating the effects of loneliness.
Levels of loneliness have almost doubled in less than a year according to the CSO, increasing from 6.8% in April 2020 to 13.1% in February 2021. There have been significant and damaging impacts being experienced by groups most at risk, including older people, during this period. ALONE want to raise awareness of the negative effects that loneliness can have on older people, and are calling on members of the public to make small changes to their day-to-day lives that could help to combat loneliness among older people. Through this campaign, ALONE want to inspire people to think of older people throughout their day to day and check in or reach out. This could be something as simple as picking up the phone for a chat.
Loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of early death, with some studies highlighting that older people experiencing high levels of loneliness are twice as likely to die within six years compared to those who are not lonely. Studies have linked loneliness and social isolation to higher risks of physical and mental conditions, including heart disease, anxiety, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Since the beginning of 2021 to May of this year, ALONE made nearly 82,520 Support and Befriending calls to older people suffering from loneliness and social isolation.
Also within this time frame, ALONE have received over 10,000 calls from older people to their National Support Line and in turn, have completed nearly 3,000 support plans for those who had an identified need for additional levels of support. Between 9th March and 31st December, ALONE supported almost 15,000 older people; of these callers, 31% were aged between 75-90 years and 75% were living alone.
Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “Loneliness is a serious issue among older people which is not a new occurrence because of the arrival of COVID-19, really it’s only been exacerbated and we know the long-term impacts of loneliness will continue to affect older people long after the pandemic has passed. It is important that we begin implementing recommendations from the Loneliness Taskforce; currently, there are no structures in place for the protection of older people or funding to relieve the increasing effect of loneliness being felt across the Country.”
He continued, “We ask that members of the public continue to reach out and check in with older people. Just a few minutes out of your day, to make a phone call or safe visit, could absolutely #ChangeOneDay for an older person, particularly if they are struggling with loneliness. We are encouraging any older person who is experiencing loneliness to get in touch with ALONE. Our staff and volunteers are on-hand to provide ongoing telephone support for older people and make regular phone calls for reassurance and social support.”
Contact ALONE if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person you know. Their National Support Line is available seven days a week from 8am – 8pm on 0818 222 024. Further information can be found on www.alone.ie.
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