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Community services vital to combating loneliness and isolation amongst older people, says Age Cymru

Published on 23 July 2018 03:16 PM

Maintaining and improving basic community services are crucial to preventing older people from falling into the trap of loneliness and isolation, says the older peoples’ charity Age Cymru.

On the eve of the Senedd debate on loneliness, the charity warns that failure to protect basic local services such as bus routes, day centres, post offices, and lunch clubs can lead to greater levels of isolation and loneliness amongst older people.  This can lead to physical and mental ill health requiring more intensive and complex support later in life.

The charity’s research shows that an estimated 75,000 older people in Wales say that they are often or always feeling lonely.  While free or subsidised transport to events and access to lunch and social clubs were cited as a key factors in combatting loneliness by 70% of the respondents.

The charity is calling for more effective partnership-working between public, private and voluntary sectors to make better use of buildings and facilities during the evenings and weekends. It says local authorities should look at ways older people can be supported to develop and manage their own projects, such as lunch clubs, cafes or learning groups.  

This can be a great way to encourage isolated older people to get involved in meaningful activities and to increase the range of volunteering opportunities for older people, particularly those who have just retired.

The charity is also calling for town planners to consult more with older peoples’ groups so our built environments become more age friendly and include facilities such as public toilets, street lighting, and seating.

The older people’s charity is making the call to maintain and improve community services ahead of the plenary debate on loneliness at the Senedd on Wednesday 14 February 2018 following publication of the Inquiry into loneliness and Isolation by the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, and the subsequent response by the Welsh Government.

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