Care of elderly ‘improving’

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The summer holiday period has always been a hard time for the elderly but that’s slowly starting to change, Age Concern Waitaki co-ordinator Wayne Stringer says.

Financial burdens, loneliness and dementia are the major problems for older people during the Christmas and New Year period.

But Mr Stringer said the community is starting to look out for their elderly neighbours and friends in a way that hasn’t been seen since the 1940s to ’60s.

People are now calling organisations like Age Concern if they are worried about someone and older people aren’t as scared about asking for help anymore.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t problems, but it is getting better, he said.

Dementia is one cause of issues that are exacerbated during the holiday period because things like Christmas decorations can trigger memories.

It elevates an older person activity and they start to repeat things more often, Mr Stringer said.

“They do get a wee bit more difficult.”

Those looking after dementia suffers can get annoyed and verbally abuse them and those suffering can get frustrated and lash out.

There’s also a financial burden at this time of year with grandparents expected to buy gifts and provide for grandchildren at Christmas often resulting in the older person going without.

“The most precious gift they can give families is their time and their memories.”

Many older people are also left alone on Christmas.

“A lot of things get given to children and older people sometimes get forgotten.”

Mr Stringer said one thing that really helped this year was the Lions Club of Oamaru donation of Christmas gifts for Age Concern.

These were delivered by the co-ordinator with the help of others a few days before Christmas and had many of the recipients in tears.

“They just couldn’t believe it.

“It was very emotional actually,” he said.

Anyone who is concerned for themselves or an elderly friend, family member or neighbour can contact Age Concern Waitaki on 03 434 7008.

By Ruby Harfield