ALONE continue to receive calls to Covid-19 support line as cocooning measures are relaxed

Leinster Express Reporter

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Leinster Express Reporter

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ALONE, the organisation that supports older people, has received more than 20,000 calls to their Covid-19 helpline for older people since it launched in March.

ALONE, the organisation that supports older people, has received more than 20,000 calls to their Covid-19 helpline for older people since it launched in March. ALONE has hugely expanded their services since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Ireland to meet the needs of older people nationwide, and is running a national helpline for older people as part of Community Call in collaboration with the Department of Health, the HSE, and Local Authorities including Laois County Council.

In addition to this, ALONE staff and volunteers have made 71,715 calls to older people across the country that need support. Three quarters of the older people who called the ALONE helpline in the last week are living alone. ALONE has urged communities, family members and neighbours to continue to offer support and assistance to older people during this time, and remind older people that although we may be apart, that does not mean that they are alone.

“While we welcomed the news last week that cocooning measures would be relaxed slightly and that older people would be able to leave their homes to exercise, our communities continue to play a vital role in supporting older people at this time,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “In recent weeks we have seen increasing numbers of phone calls from older people experiencing difficulties with their physical and mental wellbeing as cocooning measures continue. Older people and particularly those who are medically and socially vulnerable should be aware that support is available, whether that is for Covid-19 information, or support with finance, housing, or other difficulties.”

In March, the organisation  welcomed the introduction of practical support phone lines for older and medically vulnerable people by Local Authorities to increase capacity and resources for those who are most in need. ALONE is working in collaboration with Laois County Council, and the ALONE National Helpline continues to complement Local Authority work by providing information and support on issues relating to COVID-19, housing, finance, and physical and mental health. ALONE also provides daily telephone support to older people who would like extra social contact while cocooning.

ALONE believes that as well as tackling the immediate issues posed by COVID-19, the Government must take into consideration the long-term detrimental effect that cocooning is having on the physical and mental health of older people. Last week the organisation released concerning figures relating to older people’s mental health as a result of the pandemic, with increases in calls from older people expressing suicidal ideation. ALONE has also noted an increase in calls regarding non-Covid related hospital visits, such as injuries related to falls. The organisation has also noted with concern that some older people are unsure about whether to seek needed medical attention for fear of contracting Covid-19 at a GP appointment or in hospital.

 “As the pandemic continues we are starting to see the long term impact that Covid-19 will have on the health and wellbeing of older people,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “We are asking members of the public to stay in touch with the older people in their communities and to provide support if needed. Our message to older people is that staying at home doesn’t mean you are alone, and we are encouraging every older person to keep in contact with the people and support organisations they need throughout this time.”

He concluded, “We are encouraging any older person who has questions, concerns, worries, or is experiencing loneliness at this time, to get in touch with us by calling 0818 222 024. As well as difficulties with everyday activities like getting groceries and prescriptions, cocooning measures will also result in lots of older people feeling lonely and isolated, including those who may not previously have experienced loneliness like this. It is important that every older person knows that support is available to them, even if they have not used ALONE’s services before.”

ALONE is encouraging older people who need advice to call their helpline, 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. The helpline, which is running in collaboration with the Department of Health, the HSE and Local Authorities, is available to all older people including those who have not used ALONE’s services previously. The support line is designed to complement the clinical advice and information being provided by the HSE through its website and helpline. Older people who are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 are advised to call their GP.

Contact ALONE on 0818 222 024 if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person you know. Further information can be found on www.alone.ie.