Elderly: Don't let elderly get out of touch

By Annemarie Quill

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Keep in touch with your elderly relatives.
Keep in touch with your elderly relatives.

Getting old has its downsides - wrinkles, greying hair and not being able to devour bacon butties any more without putting on weight to name a few.

But loneliness is not an obvious one that springs to mind. When I do retire I am looking forward to having more time to socialise - not less. Yet some of our elderly population struggle for company.

Last week Kiri Gillespie reported Age Concern Tauranga is desperate for more funding as it struggles to meet an overwhelming demand from lonely elderly for its visiting service.

The service connects people to visit isolated elderly, often widowed or living on their own.

Age Concern Tauranga has no shortage of police-vetted volunteers for its visiting service, but lacks the funds needed to appropriately administer it. It seems like a worthwhile initiative well deserved of funding.

It makes sense to invest in our older community, not just from a social perspective but economic too - lonely old people get depressed and can develop a raft of health problems.

Age Concern says loneliness can cause cardiovascular disease, depression, dementia and lowered resistance to infection. Research shows that social isolation can be as bad as smoking and alcohol consumption, and is more dangerous than obesity or physical inactivity.

This week is Age Concern Awareness Week which has a focus on loneliness. Let's not wait to reach out to an older person in our street or community who may be in need of company.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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