Dublin: Loneliness Is Biggest Problem For Home-Alone Elderly People: SVP

7 Sep

A new report by the St Vincent de Paul has found that loneliness is the biggest individual problem faced by older people living alone.

The report found older people especially disliked robotic telephone answering systems

The report found older people especially disliked robotic telephone answering systems

The report entitled “Older people – experiences and issues” will be launched in Dublin this morning by the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

The study finds that loneliness is particularly acute in rural areas with a reduced level of human contact as a result of declining public services, such as the closure of post offices and reductions in other local services, including transport.

The St Vincent de Paul report on the experiences and issues of older people in Ireland also covers their attitudes to growing old, the younger generation, family links, income support, crime, housing, religion and employment.

Commenting on the findings, the SVP National President, Mairéad Bushnell, said the charity was working to combat loneliness by its system of personal visitation, and the provision of services such as day centres, social housing and holidays.

Bur she said it was a very wide social issue.

The study also showed that older people especially disliked robotic telephone answering systems used by public and private companies which, they felt, reduced personal contact.

It found that to keep in touch, many older people use mobile phones, mainly for calls and a smaller proportion for texting.

Few people the society talked to used personal computers or the internet.

NEWS UPDATE:

Loneliness biggest problem for elderly

THE country might be going through unprecedented economic hardship but loneliness remains the biggest issue for the elderly.

A report on the attitudes of older people by the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) attributed an increasing sense of isolation, particularly in rural areas, to cutbacks in public services.

They also expressed widespread amazement at how badly hospitals and the health services in general are managed.

Older people blamed the closure of post offices and cutbacks to bus and rail services for their experience of a reduced level of human contact in recent years.

In particular, they expressed concern about the lack of transport services for visits to hospitals and other medical appointments.

The SVP said elderly people were forced to make long, difficult and stressful journeys, often at considerable personal expense, to access health services.

Many of those surveyed also complained of financial pressures, with those in receipt of just the state pension claiming they were barely able to manage.

“The state pension did not permit saving for a rainy day, emergencies, breakdown of appliances or repairs, and this was itself a form of poverty,” the report said.

However, large numbers said they would forego fuel and food, especially meat, if they had to cut spending.

The report said many pensioners bitterly resented the discontinuation of the Christmas social welfare bonus and the introduction of stealth charges.

SVP president Mairead Bushnell said the research, involving interviews with almost 600 elderly people in 43 locations on the island, would act as a blueprint for the charity’s future work with the elderly.

“Although the SVP is working to combat loneliness by its system of personal visitation, services such as day centres, social housing and holidays, and the provision of personal alarms, it is a very wide social issue,” said Ms Bushnell.

SVP said many people, especially in rural Ireland, felt it was a stigma to be seen to be seeking help from the SVP, while SVP members regularly felt overwhelmed by the scale of problems experienced by the people assisted by the charity.

Although many elderly people expressed fear for their personal safety and felt Ireland had become a more dangerous place, Mr Harvey said very few had been actual victims of crime.

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Keywords:  elderly, st vincent de paul

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