HELP­ING THE EL­DERLY

Rotorua Weekender - - Front Page - Shauni James

If you’ve al­ways wanted to give some­one a help­ing hand and brighten some­one’s week you can through a lo­cal ser­vice.

Age Con­cern Ro­torua sup­ports older Ki­wis to have a healthy life­style, full of op­por­tu­ni­ties and pro­tec­tion from harm. It says there are grow­ing num­bers of el­derly who are lonely or so­cially iso­lated in Ro­torua.

Man­ager Rory O’rourke says the or­gan­i­sa­tion does not have enough vol­un­teers to sup­port the num­ber of re­fer­rals.

“This num­ber will only rise given that the num­ber of over 65s (10,000 in Ro­torua) is set to dou­ble by 2030.”

Sue White, Ac­cred­ited Vis­i­tor Ser­vice co-or­di­na­tor, says she needs vol­un­teers.

Vol­un­teers will be matched with an el­derly per­son with a sim­i­lar back­ground and in­ter­ests who can en­joy each other’s com­pany.

Vol­un­teers are ex­pected to visit their el­derly match weekly for about an hour, some­times catch­ing up by phone if they can­not visit.

Some­times it in­volves go­ing out for a drive or a cof­fee, or just meet­ing in their home, de­pend­ing on the per­son.

Sue says she matched one of the vol­un­teers with a woman in a rest home who is lonely as she has moved from else­where.

“They have con­nected through a shared in­ter­est in ge­neal­ogy, as well as shar­ing the same sense of hu­mour. Both are re­ally en­joy­ing that con­nec­tion and that gives us a real buzz.”

She says it is a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial sit­u­a­tion.

“The per­son be­ing vis­ited has some­body who is not a fam­ily mem­ber or a care­giver, but is there to purely spend reg­u­lar time to­gether.

“For the per­son vis­it­ing, they know they are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence to some­body’s life and are also mak­ing a friend­ship.”

Shop­ping Ser­vice and Con­fi­dent Driv­ing co-or­di­na­tor Jody Langdon says she also needs vol­un­teers.

She says vol­un­teers for the Shop­ping Ser­vice role have a slightly more hands-on role, need­ing to be more phys­i­cally fit be­cause they are car­ry­ing shop­ping bags.

“We are find­ing there is an in­crease of peo­ple in the com­mu­nity who, be­cause of ill health or mo­bil­ity is­sues, can’t drive or leave home so it’s hard to do shop­ping.”

Jody says they are also find­ing a huge per­cent­age of el­derly peo­ple do not use the in­ter­net for on­line or­der­ing.

Be­ing a vol­un­teer for this ser­vice in­volves — nor­mally once a fort­night — pick­ing the el­derly per­son up, walk­ing around the su­per­mar­ket with them, tak­ing them home and putting the gro­ceries on the bench.

“What’s most im­por­tant is not only the so­cial in­ter­ac­tion but also that our el­derly have a bal­anced and nu­tri­tious diet.”

In con­junc­tion with Ro­torua Lakes Coun­cil, Age Con­cern Ro­torua will be run­ning Con­fi­dent Driv­ing and Life Without a Car sem­i­nars.

Con­fi­dent Driv­ing will give el­derly peo­ple the chance to do a re­fresher course and brush up on their driv­ing.

Set­ting up Life Without a Car is un­der way, with Age Con­cern start­ing to do a stock­take of all the mo­bile ser­vices in Ro­torua.

Jody would love to hear from peo­ple who know of mo­bile ser­vices or ways to make liv­ing without a car eas­ier.

All vol­un­teers are po­lice vet­ted, have ref­er­ence checks, have an ori­en­ta­tion and re­ceive on­go­ing sup­port.

Rory says they will also be start­ing a project called Life Story, where Ro­torua In­ter­me­di­ate pupils visit el­derly at Arvida Glen­brae Re­tire­ment Vil­lage to in­ter­view them about their life and then write their sto­ries with pho­tos and video.

An­other up­com­ing project next year is Act Your Age, which will in­volve a stage pro­duc­tion for over 65s.

■ For more in­for­ma­tion call (07) 347 1539, pop into the of­fice at 1333 Eruera St or go to www.agecon­cern.org.nz

Photo / Sup­plied

(From left) Age Con­cern Ro­torua Na­tional So­cial Con­nect ad­vi­sor Louise Rees, man­ager Rory O’rourke, Shop­ping Ser­vice and Con­fi­dent Driv­ing co-or­di­na­tor Jody Langdon, of­fice ad­min­is­tra­tion Lyn Ras­mussen and Ac­cred­ited Vis­i­tor Ser­vice co-or­di­na­tor Sue White.

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