ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, is encouraging older people to reach out and strike up a conversation, especially if they are feeling particularly isolated at the moment due to the extension of Covid-19 restrictions.
The organisation has campaigned in this area for many years and is highlighting the concerns they have when it comes to loneliness, as its effects take hold and expand across a wider and new cohort of older people.
ALONE is concerned by the increased impact loneliness is having, which they can measure in the increased demand for their supports. They are asking the public to continue to make time to talk and stay in touch with their older relatives, neighbours and friends.
While ALONE acknowledges that current guidelines are in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and protect vulnerable groups, ALONE has already reported an increase in a wide range of mental health impacts among older people.
The organisation is relaying the message that although we may be socially distanced, we don’t want anyone to feel socially isolated.
“With many of these growing issues having been identified pre-pandemic, older people have now been experiencing prolonged periods of isolation and limited social contact for almost one year.
“ALONE would like to remind older people that their services continue to be available to any older person who needs advice or support during this time.
“A new study by researchers from Trinity College Dublin and St James’s Hospital found that almost 40 per cent of participants reported that their mental health was worse or much worse since they began restricting their movements and that more than 57 per cent of participants reported loneliness at least some of the time.
“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.
“For some older people, loneliness is an unfamiliar issue, which will cease to affect them with community supports; for others, unfortunately this is an ongoing state of being.
“ALONE is determined to ensure every older person has access to the supports that they need to combat loneliness and live a happy and fulfilled life.
“If someone calls or is referred to ALONE, the organisation can arrange to contact an older person several times a week or every day if this support is needed, with this service set to continue after the current crisis,” ALONE CEO, Sean Moynihan, remarked.
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 to 8pm on (0818 ) 222024. Further information can be found on www.alone.ie