Older people need help this winter, charity warns

Sue Doherty

Reporter:

Sue Doherty

A county wide charity has warned that older people need support this winter, “as they face loneliness, fuel poverty, financial worries and feeling vulnerable in their homes.”

A county wide charity has warned that older people need support this winter, “as they face loneliness, fuel poverty, financial worries and feeling vulnerable in their homes.”

Frances Browne, coordinator of the Good Morning Service, made this observation as she was speaking in advance of the organisation’s AGM.

More than 400 people use the service right across Donegal, whether it’s getting a simple phone call every morning or being put in touch with its network of volunteers who are happy to help out in a number of ways. These include: help with repairs in the home; support following bereavement; and advice on issues such as meals on wheels; accessing health care; the digital switchover; home help; hospital waiting lists; and personal health.

She told the Donegal Democrat yesterday: “In the past six months, older people have spoken to the Good Morning Service about loneliness, financial worries, fuel poverty, isolation and feeling vulnerable in their homes.

“The cost of fuel - oil, coal and electricity - is a lot higher than it was and that is putting a lot of strain on them.

“Added to that, the cutbacks in home help hours are really affecting them. Cutbacks also mean that visits from public health nurses are now restricted to essential calls only.

“Another factor that’s making it very difficult for them is isolation. Donegal is such a huge county and a lot of older people are living in rural areas, on their own, with their family emigrated to Australia or America. Or, if they having family living nearby but working, the pressures of modern life often mean that they are busy to spend much time with them.

“I believe our service has become more valuable and essential to our clients in these times of cutbacks in health and social service provision. Our simple daily telephone call, from our friendly volunteers, ensures they are safe and well and gives them access to our Care & Repair or Advocacy service. It assists them in solving some of the everyday issues and difficulties that can lead to illness or depression. We ‘mind’ our service users and do everything we can to ensure they remain happy, healthy and contented in their home for as long as they wish.”

Key issues facing people over 60, and how best to support their needs, will be discussed at the AGM, which will be held at 2.30pm next Tuesday, November 6 in the Silver Tassie Hotel, Letterkenny. Active age advocate, Brenda Whitley, will speak at the meeting.

If you are over the age of 60, and facing any of these issues, remember you are not alone. The Service is free and available to anyone over the age of 60 living in County Donegal. To register for the service, ring 074 932 1598.

Or, if you are interested in volunteering, please come along to the AGM or ring the office on 074 931 1598, The service is currently looking for volunteers in Falcarragh, Donegal Town, Letterkenny, Lifford, and Burtonport.

You can also help by making time to talk, and listen to, any older person who might be feeling lonely, isolated, or needing support. Just a smile and the offer of a chat can make a big difference in the life of someone who is living alone.