Give a thought to any elderly neighbours
AT this time of year, as the evenings lengthen and the thermostat rises, it can be easy to overlook the needs of our elderly population. During winter we are constantly reminded to keep an eye out for older family members or neighbours, yet come summer this issue seemingly disappears, the needs of the elderly no longer a concern.
However, while they may not have inclement weather nor exorbitant heating bills to contend with in the forthcoming months, the elderly require care and assistance all year round, not just when the weather is cold.
While there are many services which meet the basic requirements of our elderly people; healthcare, hot meals and home help; very few look beyond those core needs. And while some elderly people are fortunate enough to be part of thriving communities, whether in nursing homes or otherwise, there are thousands who deal with isolation and loneliness on a daily basis, only the occasional visit of a nurse or a delivery van breaking the monotony.
It’s tempting to believe that by looking after their health, by ensuring they have a warm house, a hot meal, we are caring for the elderly, but these are just their basic human rights. To truly care for our elderly population we must ensure that they are socially active, that they do not spend endless days and nights alone, whether in summer or winter.
In some cases it may not be possible for an older people to leave the house, to attend a social gathering in a way we might take for granted. Not everyone drives, not everyone has access to reliable public transport, some simply aren’t well enough to travel.
In these instances a simple visit to someone’s home can make all the difference, an hour spent chatting lifts the spirits, even a phone call brightens the mood. It may only be an hour of your life, a brief detour before you move on to something else, but to them it’s the highlight of their day, potentially their one and only interaction with another person.
So while some may have you believe that the elderly are only vulnerable during the cold winter months, and that summer is a time of joyous abandon for the entire nation, quite often the opposite is true. Because while the long cold nights of winter offer one set of challenges for the aged, the lengthy bright summer’s evenings are equally challenging in their own way.