Give a thought to any el­derly neigh­bours

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - ADVERTISIN­G FEATURE -

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.

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