Make Your Minutes Count with ALONE this Christmas

“Older people have the most amazing stories to tell”: Marian Keyes joins ALONE in asking the public to reach out and spend some time with older people spending Christmas alone

Dublin, 15th November 2019 ALONE, the organisation that supports older people to age at home, has today launched their Christmas campaign, which encourages members of the public to make their minutes count by working together to tackle loneliness and isolation.

Author Marian Keyes launched the organisation’s Christmas campaign, to encourage members of the public to take a few minutes out of their day to interact with their older neighbours and relatives who may be experiencing feelings of loneliness as the festive season approaches.

ALONE is also asking for support from new volunteers and donors to help to support them to combat loneliness and other challenges faced by older people. One in ten people over 75 are lonely a lot of the time and demand for ALONE’s services has increased five-fold in recent years. One in 4 older people live alone, and this increases in rural areas.

Marian commented, “I’m delighted to be helping ALONE launch their Christmas campaign this year, to spread awareness of such an important issue. I admire the work that they do with older people and I’m so happy to be a part of such a positive message. Loneliness and isolation can be serious problems for older people and dropping in for a chat or helping a neighbour with their shopping could make all the difference to their mental health. We’ve all felt alone at certain times in our lives, sometimes all it takes is a cup of tea and a bit of a laugh to really lift an older person’s spirits.  A few minutes may not mean much to you, but to a lonely older person it could be the highlight of their day.”

She continued, “As we age, it can be more difficult to reach out to people for companionship; a lot of older people might be embarrassed or too proud to admit that they are lonely. What might only seem like a quick chat to you can make an older person feel loved, appreciated, and that they are part of the community. Older people have the most amazing stories to tell and it’s really important that we take the time to listen. Christmas provides people with the perfect opportunity to drop in on older neighbours and relatives for a few mince pies and a chat.”

ALONE depends on the generosity of the public for support through volunteering and donations. As part of a range of services, ALONE provides a Support and Befriending service, which is designed to alleviate the negative impacts loneliness has on mental and physical health. Volunteers are trained and supported by experienced staff, and provide older people with companionship and practical support.

“It takes us ten minutes to introduce an older person to their new volunteer, but it can lead to years of companionship and friendship and it can change someone’s life. In the run up to Christmas none of us ever seem to have enough time to do all the things we need to do. We know that not everyone has the time to volunteer with ALONE – but it only takes a minute to donate and to help us to continue to do the work we do. Demand for our services has increased five-fold in recent years and we are reliant on the support of the public to keep delivering our services. €10 can pay for an hour of support from ALONE,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan.

Moynihan continued, “Loneliness is a crisis experienced by thousands of older people and it’s important to remember that there are many older people who will spend the festive period alone. Loneliness is a year-round issue but it can be particularly difficult during the festive and winter periods. 45% of the older people we work with are over 80. We are asking members of the public to support ALONE by giving a little bit of their time to older people who are alone, by making a donation to support our services or by referring an older person who might use our services.”

ALONE also launched its national phone line at their Christmas launch. The phone line is open Monday-Friday from 9-5 for older people across the country, on 0818 222 024.

“We are encouraging any older person who needs support this winter to reach out and give us a call,” said Moynihan. “There are tens of thousands of older people who are experiencing loneliness, isolation, housing and financial difficulties, and other challenges this winter, and we want them to know that support is available. 1 in 4 people who use ALONE’s services picked up the phone themselves for support.”

ALONE say that there are a number of ways that the public can reach out and spend their time helping an older person this Christmas, for example; dropping in to an older person’s house for a cup of tea and a chat, ensuring they have enough food, medication and heat, bringing them to a social event and giving them a hand with their shopping.

Contact ALONE 0818 222 024 if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of a vulnerable older person in the community. For more information visit www.alone.ie