Eldery should not feel trapped

NEW findings from the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s Inquiry (Close to Home, Gazette November 23), which shows that many older people are “cut off from everyday life and deprived of human company”, are deeply shocking – and highlight an urgent need for action, not simply more words.

The Inquiry highlights the “pervasive social isolation and loneliness” experienced by so many older people today and talks of many being “trapped in their own homes….often due to lack of transport and support to get out”.

The detrimental affect social isolation places on older people’s general health and wellbeing has also been recognised by the Commission.

Contact the Elderly knows from almost 50 years of experience that social interaction can make a profound difference to the lives of older people in local communities.

A study among 1,000 of the older people we support shows that since joining our free, monthly tea parties, almost 90 per cent feel less lonely, over four in five now feel part of a community and 60 per cent feel more confident.

Such social gatherings in Eastbourne help elderly people to remain independent in their own homes, whilst ensuring they re-connect with the local community.

Our own research clearly demonstrates that regular social contact really can make all the difference – and can prevent older members of Eastbourne from falling into a downward spiral of isolation.

The Close to Home Inquiry states that many older people describe social isolation as like suffering from “gaol fever”. In prison, solitary confinement is recognised as one of the worst forms of punishment, yet it’s happening to elderly people here in our local community.

For your readers who want to do something about this issue – and help cure “gaol fever” amongst the older residents of Eastbourne – can I please ask them to contact me now.

JULIA RIVAS

Regional Development Officer.

Telephone 01273 401569

Email: julia.rivas@contact-the-elderly.org.uk