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

Waihi Leader - - News - By CAR­MEN HALL [email protected]­hileader.co.nz

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.”

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