Reach out to older people who are 'living in fear', says Cork campaigner

Reach out to older people who are 'living in fear', says Cork campaigner

A leading Cork campaigner has pleaded with people across the city and the county to reach out to the older people in their community, whom he said were, “sad, nervous, lonely and living in fear.” 

Paddy O’Brien, who is a well-known advocate for older people in Cork said that over the past fortnight he had spoken to many people in the community about the challenges they were facing during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“They didn’t speak to me about food, they spoke about loneliness,” he said.

Mr O’Brien pointed out that grandparents were deeply affected by not seeing their grandchildren as a result of the measures introduced to tackle the pandemic.

“People miss their grandchildren. There is always a very special bond between grandchildren and their grandparents. 

"I’d encourage grandchildren to write to their grandparents, it would mean so much to them, and for younger people to write to older people in the community, he said.

Mr O’Brien said older people were also missing attending mass which for many, he said, is an important social outlet. 

“They might meet their neighbours and have a chat. This is possibly the only conversation they would have for the whole day,” he said.

The campaigner praised the HSE for their efforts to communicate with people during the outbreak but said people are still nervous.

“It is very important that we are all extra vigilant in relation to the elderly in our communities, particularly those who are living on their own.

“More than ever, we must come to the rescue of our elderly neighbours and ensure that they have heating and food, or their prescription,” he said.

“Don’t be nervous or embarrassed to call to someone and ask three simple words, are you ok," he added.

He also highlighted that many older people do not have a phone, and said they could let their neighbours know there is a problem by telling them they would leave a light on in a certain room if they were in difficulty by night, or leave the curtains closed if there was a problem during the day.

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