Social isolation and loneliness are growing problems for the elderly, so Horowhenua's Age Concern group is holding a public forum to address the issues.

Elder Abuse Neglect Prevention Coordinator Dan Geraghty said the group wanted to highlight the problem the country is facing and provide the opportunity for people to engage with local agencies and organisations that can help.

"Social isolation and loneliness is an invisible condition that cannot be observed or clinically assessed because it is unique to each individual," he said.

"People have to perceive themselves as lonely or socially isolated for it to be measured."

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The forum, which anyone can attend, will feature a panel of experts and speakers, including Sir Kim Workman, who will talk about his work with some of the country's most socially isolated people during his time as the head of New Zealand prisons.

Sir Kim Workman.
Sir Kim Workman.

Geraghty said Horowhenua Age Concern had hosted other similar forums on issues and concerns relevant to the elderly in particular, including scams, bullying and intimidation, power of attorney information and wills.

These had been successful events with attendees giving feedback that they gained extra knowledge and the ability to make contact with resources they were previously unaware of, he said.

Geraghty said the topics of social isolation and loneliness actually affect everyone in the community, not just the elderly.

"I would challenge each and every person to deny that at one time or another they can honestly say they have never been overwhelmed with feelings of isolation or loneliness," he said.

"No longer do we sit and chat over a cup of tea but we send emails or Facebook our so-called 'friends' to tell them what is going on."

The forum will be held at Levin Cosmopolitan Club, 47-51 Oxford St, on Friday April 12 at 10am. Admission is free.

For further information contact Horowhenua Age Concern on 06 367 2181.

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