Help is a phone call away
Support is available for older folk in Waihi who feel isolated and lonely, or who need help with something in their lives
Concerns have been raised by social agencies for elderly in Waihi who may be isolated or lonely but the organisations say help is only a phone call away.
Age Concern Thames manager Kathryn Jury says often when an older person becomes socially isolated, their dignity is affected.
“The less the everyday person sees other individuals the less we think of including them in our lives, so isolation can become self-perpetuating. When a person is brought to our attention, no matter what town they are in, there are always further complications in their life that they need support, advocacy and, or guidance for.”
“We witness elders placed on a continuum which has neglect and abuse at one end and a relatively short period of loneliness at the other. Everyone is placed on a different place on this continuum but the common denominator is always isolation.”
Age Concern Thames has an active presence in Waihi, she says.
It holds the Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention contract from the Ministry of Social Development and has two fieldworkers who cover the Waihi area.
Meanwhile it also had an accredited visiting service that matches trained and police vetted volunteers up with an isolated elder and a falls prevention class in Waihi which has more than 35 participants.
“Often elders themselves are reluctant to come forward for help. It may be a generalisation but they are often of a generation that believed you dealt with your own problems and that there was always someone worse off than you so don’t complain.”
“Thankfully this mentality is slowly fading. It can also be a matter of mana. It is not an easy thing to admit for example that your own family who should be the ones to love and support you are actually the ones who neglect, and worse abuse you. Many elders will not speak up easily until they are desperate.”
Day-to-day poverty is a reality for many elders in our area, including Waihi, she says.
“There is often an assumption that those who have worked all their lives have savings put away, own their own home mortgage-free and have investments and so no longer need help and support. This is not the rule but the exception. Despite these assumptions there are many elders out there who have raised families, had periods of unemployment in their lives and rely solely on their pension and rent substandard homes.
“The perceived riches of businesses within a town do not necessarily filter down to the elder in the street.”
Waihi Salvation Army Major Wendy Sanson says no one in life can do it by themselves.
“We are made for relationships, we need each other.”
“There are lonely people in the town but if nobody knows then nobody knows and they do need to make a little bit of an effort themselves.”
The Salvation Army held a seniors group every second Thursday of the month with a morning tea and shared lunch which attracted on average 35 people and everyone was welcome.
“Waihi is a pretty good town and we have seen a lot of people looking people after their neighbours and friends.”
Jan Smeaton from the Waihi Community Resource Centre says the
centre has a Senior Connect programme which provides volunteer drivers to take the elderly to appointments or shops around town.
“The aim is to help the elderly remain independent in their own homes but to also remain connected to community services and social clubs.”
Waihi Budget Services manager Margaret Elsworth says it had more superannuitants now than ever before seeking help.
“We are getting more older people and that is really sad. You know they have worked all their life and the super is not all that great, particularly for woman or man on their own.
“We tend to get the odd person come in after the other partner has died. They have all their insurances and rates to pay and their income drops but the costs don’t and that is the problem.”
A St John spokeswoman says it runs a Caring Caller programme for people who live alone or feel lonely and often these people are elderly and isolated.
“We discreetly match them with a St John Caring Caller volunteer who has similar interests to them. Our volunteers call them when it’s suitable and develops a friendship over the phone.”
Next year St John would roll a national vulnerable older adults pathway.
“Ambulance personnel will also be able to refer vulnerable older adults to the local Elder Abuse Response Service. This means that anyone identified as being vulnerable due to any form of abuse whether it be financial, physical, emotional, sexual or selfneglect can be referred for support with consent.”