ALONE – Befriending is a vital health service for older people
Charity highlights the importance of Befriending this International Day of Older People
1st October 2016, Dublin This International Day of Older people on October 1st, ALONE is highlighting the importance of Befriending services nationwide in the prevention of loneliness and related health issues.
Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “As an organisation that works with vulnerable older people, we interact first hand with the effects of loneliness every day. I don’t think that people are aware just how devastating loneliness can be for your general health. Not only can loneliness lead to depression, but it is also a predictor for dementia, cardiovascular disease and decreased immune system responsivity. Loneliness is twice as dangerous to the health of an older person as obesity, and is as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
He continued “ALONE’s Befriending Services provides companionship to older people who are socially isolated through a weekly volunteer visit as well as a range of social events. We are continually developing the service to ensure that all older people who require it will have access to a quality assured befriending service. All of our volunteers are trained to a high standard, Garda vetted and they are supported by experienced mentors.”
Moynihan concluded, “We receive no day-to-day government funding for our services which provide a lifeline for thousands of vulnerable older people. Befriending is a preventative health measure and given that mental health problems have an estimated overall economic cost of €3 billion per annum, we would implore the government to take a better look at this key health service.”
ALONE are also the hosts of Befriending Networks Ireland, a national network of befriending services for vulnerable and older people. Its aims are to provide training, quality, transparency as well as a national voice for befriending. ALONE are the only Befriending service in the country to have a quality award and are passionate about ensuring quality across befriending services.
This International Day of Older people on October 1st, ALONE encourage any older person looking for a Befriending Service in their area to get in touch and call 01 679 1032. Similarly, if there are any befriending organisations looking for advice and support they can contact ALONE.