If you are an older person who is feeling isolated and alone and/or finding it difficult to cope I hope the Useful Agencies at the end of this section will be helpful to you as a means of finding appropriate advice, support, friendship. (see also sections on Loneliness and Disability if appropriate)
If you are feeling lonely there are agencies which can help by providing home visits, outings, days out, and companionship with other people.
Many older people also find that doing voluntary work is an excellent way of keeping busy and active and at the same time meeting others. Local Age Concern branches would welcome older volunteers as would many other agencies such as local hospitals for help with visiting patients, helping in the hospital shop, charity shops are often glad of help from older volunteers and your local volunteer bureau will also have local vacancies for volunteers.
If you are struggling to make ends meet and in need of essential appliances or items for your home or need repairs/adaptations but cannot afford them there are agencies listed here who may be able to help. Also contact your local Council for the possibility of obtaining a grant.
Keep your home secure.
Contact your local Police Station and ask for a visit from the Crime Prevention Officer who will be able to give you advice about security. They may also be able to help with the funding for any work needed and Help the Aged also provide a HandyVan scheme which can provide locks, spy holes, door chains etc. often free of charge as well as doing small jobs such as changing light bulbs.
Never let anyone including officials into the home without asking for their identification. If anyone comes to your door who you don’t know keep the chain on. Gas and Electric companies can help by setting up a password which has to be used by anyone coming to read your meter.
Be aware that unfortunately there are people out there who take advantage of older people who they see as being particularly vulnerable. They may knock pretending to be the gasman, may say they are from the waterboard and you have a leak, etc. It is best to shut the door and ring the agency concerned to see if this is a genuine caller. Leave the chain on if you don’t know who is calling.
Some rogue tradesmen also prey on vulnerable people and will knock telling you that you need urgent work done like the tiles on the roof – never let these people in or have any dealings with them. Your local council should be able to give you a list of approved tradesmen should you need any work done.
Never leave large amounts of money in your house.
If you have difficulty in filling out or understanding forms ask for help from your local Citizen Advice Bureau, Age Concern, or Help the Aged organisations.
Try and keep as healthy and active as you can. Some Age Concern groups run classes specifically for older people to do some gentle exercise.
Eat healthily as possible, drink water, and eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
If you are worried about your health contact your GP as soon as possible.
Try to keep as involved with life as you can. Local libraries should be able to give you details of classes at community/adult education centres, Age Concern in your area may run internet and computer classes. Local churches often have an over 60’s club which is a great way of increasing your social life.
The Ramblers Association is also a good way of meeting other people while keeping active at the same time.
If you find yourself worrying about something and have nobody around to talk to – don’t keep it to yourself – ring one of the Helplines which offer advice and information.
If you are unwell and/or need a stay in hospital and need someone to take care of your pet, take the dog out for a walk etc. contact the Cinnamon Trust listed below. They can provide a volunteer who will help.
If you need to move into sheltered accommodation, nursing home etc. there are places which accept pets – contact the Cinnamon Trust listed below.
If you feel particularly vulnerable in your home Help the Aged provide alarms for older people where you can summon instant help – your local council may also run a similar scheme called Lifeline or Careline.
If you need help with anything don’t be afraid to ask – people will be only too pleased to help you – if the first agency/person you ask cannot help – don’t give up – keep contacting other agencies until you get the help and support you need.
Agencies which can provide help and support
Able Community Care 01603 764567, www.uk-care.com - Arrange live-in carers for an elderly or disabled person in the UK.
Age UK Advice Line
Aid for the Aged in Distress: 0870 803 1950, www.agedistress.org.uk - Makes emergency grants to enable elderly people to cope with living alone. Grants for essentials such as heating, bedding, cookers, carpets, curtains, furniture, repairs, telephones, alarm connections, clothing.
The Cinnamon Trust: 01736 757900, www.cinnamon.org.uk - National charity for elderly or terminally ill people and their pets. Network of volunteers who can visit homebound owners to take dogs for daily walks, foster pet as one of their family when owners face time in hospital, take pets to the vet, by pet food, clean budgie cage, have national register of nursing homes and residential homes and sheltered housing for elderly that will accept residents and their pets. Can arrange care of pets when owners die.
Contact the Elderly: 0800 716 543, www.contact-the-elderly.org - To enable very elderly people living alone to enjoy social contact, bringing companionship into their lives. Independent self run groups of volunteers and elderly housebound people are formed in a particular area. Once a month on a Sunday afternoon, each group (of some 6 volunteers and 8-10 elderly people) meets in the home of a volunteer host.
Elder Abuse Response: 0808 808 8141, www.elderabuse.org.uk - Helpline offering information and support for anyone concerned about the abuse of an older person.
Elderly Accommodation Counsel: - First Stop Advice for Older People, 0800 377 7070 , www.housingcare.org - Helpline for older people, families and agencies. Guidance, advice and information to help callers choose and fund the accommodation most suited to their needs. Maintain a national database of all forms of accommodation for older people.
Dementia UK: 0845 257 9406, www.dementiauk.org - Telephone or email advice and support for family carers, people with dementia and professionals provided by experienced Admiral nurses.
Friends of the Elderly: 020 7730 8263, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.fote.org.uk - To support older people, often frail, confused or with dementia, to maintain a level of independence and choice by providing a complete range of services for them, provides home visiting services, run day centre facilities.
Grandparents Apart - Self Help Group Scotland: 0141 882 5658, www.grandparentsapart.co.uk - Support for grandparents apart from their grandchildren.
Grandparents' Association: 0845 434 9585, www.grandparents-association.org.uk - Helpline and other advice and support services for all grandparents, particularly those denied contact with their grandchildren or responsible for their upbringing. Support Groups.
IndependentAge (new brand name of the Royal United Kingdom Beneficent Association (RUKBA)
NBFA Assisting the Elderly
National Federation of Solo Clubs:
National Federation of Women’s Institutes: 020 7371 9300, www.thewi.org.uk -
Arrange monthly meetings with speakers, demonstrations, activities, learning experiences for women.
Pets As Therapy: 01844 345 445, www.petsastherapy.org - Provide therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools, and a variety of other venues by volunteers with their own friendly temperament tested cats and dogs.
Relatives and Residents Association: 020 7359 8136, www.relres.org - Telephone advice and support services for older people living in nursing and residential homes, and for their families and friends. Referrals to 25 local volunteer run groups across the UK. Local groups provide information and enable people to share experiences.
Royal Voluntary Service:
Seniors Network: www.seniorsnetwork.co.uk - Website with lots of useful information - computers/interests, health, money, pensions, making a Will, leisure, travel - an information resource for older people and their organisations. Encourages all seniors to take an interest in technology, computers and internet.
The Stroke Association – 0303 3033 100 www.stroke.org.uk information, advice, latest research, Talkstroke discussion forum.
Stroke Support Group – for all types of stroke online community and information www.strokesupportgroup.org
St. Vincent de Paul Society:
The Silver Line: