HELPING THE ELDERLY
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
(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.