Who we've helped
Age NI is the charity supporting older people in Northern Ireland. Each year we provide direct support to thousands of older people to help them enjoy a better later life.
It's a privilege to hear from Anne, David, Elsie, Nelly, Liam and Yvonne about the way Age NI has helped in their lives. Our vision is a world where everyone can love later life.
Their inspiring personal stories show how important it is for Age NI to be here. Day after day our teams are listening, caring and providing support to older people, their carers and families all over Northern Ireland.
Although we may face challenges like ill-health, loneliness or poverty as we grow older. That doesn’t stop us being ourselves. We still want to laugh, love and be needed. We want to stay independent and keep doing the things we love.
Everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy a better later life. That’s why Age NI is here. Call us today on 0808 808 7575.
When my mother Rita was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it was a very difficult time.
I live in Bangor and at that time my mother was still living at home in County Tyrone. The distance just added to all of the other worry I was feeling. I honestly do not know what I would have done without Bernie, Shelley and the team in Meadowbank.
When I first went to meet everyone, I had immediate and absolute confidence that my mother would be looked after properly and considerately. They understood how I was feeling and gave me so much support and comfort. I’ll never forget the first day we brought my mother to Meadowbank. She was upset and unsettled, as was I to be honest. Bernie looked at me, saw exactly how I was feeling without a word spoken and said, ‘You’ll know when the right time will be. It’s not today but it will come.’ And she was right.
A few months later, my mother was settled and content in her new home. Meadowbank is such a blessing - it’s full of very special people.
Elsie & Nelly's story
I am 67 and a full-time carer to my Mum, Nelly. We’ve been coming to the Age NI day centre in Castlewellan for about 9 years.
My Mum really enjoys getting out and about and the Age NI carers are amazing with her.They treat her with so much dignity and respect. They see Nelly, not Nelly with dementia. Because of them, I get a little ‘me time’. I rely so much on the respite the day centre gives. It is a blessing and a relief.
Looking back, the change in my Mum happened very unexpectedly. She was getting quite anxious and having moodswings. I now know that her behaviour was because of dementia. The day centre carers really help her to feel at calm and ease.
Mum and I still share a love of music. She’s a great singer, and I love to hear her sing in the day centre because then I know that she’s in a happy place. She sounds like the Mum I knew before dementia took hold of her, and that makes me happy too.
Liam & David's story
Liam and I met when our wives were both being treated for dementia in the same ward. When you go through something like that, it can be a very difficult, isolating time.
The Age NI day centre is a warm and friendly place. There might be days you come in grumpy, but you always leave with a smile on your face.
David and I enjoy the craic and banter in the day centre. We have been coming here for a few years.
It feels like a family and Wendy (the Manager) and her team know us all inside out. Having somewhere local where people know us, care about us, and enjoy our company is important. It’s like a home from home and that’s priceless at any age.
Liam, pictured right, who has sadly now passed away, told us often how he enjoyed the craic and banter in the day centre with David and the other clients over the years. Liam is greatly missed.
Robert & Herbie
Robert Atkinson and Herbie Rennie attend an Age NI Day Centre in Belfast.
They became the best of friends after meeting at a support group for people dealing with the consequences of a stroke. They are the Morecambe and Wise of the day centre, bringing sunshine, laughter and general mischief to every gathering! They love nothing more than a bit of banter with staff and clients but it hasn’t always been that way.
Herbie and Robert have both experienced the lows that isolation and loneliness can bring. It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago Herbie ‘didn’t want to walk out the front door’ as a result of depression, or that Robert was experiencing ‘soul-destroying loneliness’ in hospital, and having to learn to walk again. Yet, not only are Robert and Herbie now great friends and regular day centre attendees, they are both involved in local groups and activities for people in later life to ensure that the voice of older people is heard loud and clear.
Robert and Herbie agree that there is nothing worse than feeling isolated and alone, and that regaining confidence has a huge part to play in becoming reconnected with family, friends and society again.
‘Robert and I have both dealt with some life-changing events over the years’, says Herbie. ‘At one point, I thought I’d lost everything. But I came through it. It’s about people encouraging you to come out of yourself. Of course, it depends a lot on the individual too but we all need someone to help us along.’
Herbie encouraged Robert to start attending the day centre, and they have both since encouraged many others to do so. Age NI Day Centre Manager, Wendy McKillion says that the centre is just like ‘one big family’ where everyone enjoys each other’s company and there’s always someone to talk to or some who will listen to you.
‘We have clients who are referred to the centre who have nobody and don’t see anyone from one week to the next. The opportunity to come here, catch up with friends, take part in activities and have a bite to eat is priceless for many’, says Wendy.
Herbie was a keen snooker player, and Robert a keen bowler but experiencing a stroke had a huge impact on both their social lives. ‘I lived for bowls’, says Robert. ‘But I couldn’t play after the stroke. It was difficult to take in. Losing your hobby like that can be devastating – it affects your routine, your social circle and your confidence. That’s why it’s so important to take on other interests, no matter how big or small, to get your focus and confidence back. Having interests and hobbies keeps you active and involved.’
Watching Robert and Herbie, it’s clear to see the depth of their friendship. They have such strong camaraderie and share the same goal - to make life better for others. ‘If we are sitting in a group of people and Robert and I have made them laugh, then that makes our day’, says Herbie.
‘Agreed’, nods Robert, ‘and if we can encourage people to get out and about and get involved, then we have achieved something. If we can do it, anyone can.���
Before getting help from Age NI, I’m not afraid to say that I was in a bad way. I felt as though my world had ended when my darling wife died.
We had been married for 44 years and we had no children, so our worlds had always revolved around each other. We had spent 17 years in rented accommodation which had badly deteriorated over the years. It had no central heating, draughty doors and windows and was very damp. Hot water was at a premium as we were scared about turning on the immersion heater in case bills rocketed. We struggled to make ends meet and we did...just about. We had no idea at the time that we might have any other options. There was never any money left over to save for a rainy day. Every day was a rainy one! But we coped and we had each other.
In the days and weeks after my wife’s funeral I was so unhappy. I didn’t want to tell anybody how bad things were and truthfully, I often cried myself to sleep. Matters eventually came to a head when I fell and broke several ribs. I finally confided in a close friend just how bad things had become and that’s when she contacted Age NI for me.
I was in pain, I was scared and I felt very low. But with the help of the Age NI Advice Service, suddenly I realised I was not alone. Age NI worked with me to get help with my money worries, to move home, to have a second chance at life. My life has totally transformed. In less then six months I changed from a depressed, broken man to a man who views the world in a new light. I have a lovely, secure, affordable place to live. I am making new friends. However difficult life may seem, help is at hand. You must ask. I nearly didn’t and look what I would have missed out on.
I would love to think that somebody reading this could be helped as I was. Just lift that phone to Age NI and see what you might be entitled to. Everything is totally confidential. What have you to lose? Don’t wait!
I woke up on the floor in a panic, bleeding.
Earlier that night, I felt dizzy on my way to the bathroom and the next thing I remember was slowly coming to on the floor, not really knowing where I was or how I’d got there. I crawled to the bedroom, found my phone and got my daughter.
I was four nights in the hospital and remember looking in the mirror at one point and thinking I’d never be the same again, bruised and battered on the outside but also on the inside. All my confidence was gone and it was a shock to the system. I felt much older than my 62 years.
I called Age NI about a Personal Alarm as soon as I got home. My Dad actually has one too. For a moment, that feeling of growing older and vulnerable overnight came flooding back and then it passed. I needed a little extra support and I knew I shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it.
The alarm has been literally life-changing.
I don’t feel alone any longer and I’m happy in my own home again. That tiny little button has kickstarted the confidence I took for granted for so long and it’s given my children peace of mind too. I never really think about it, I don’t have to. It’s always there.