Age Concern Wanganui calls for volunteer visitors

15 February 2016
Age Concern Wanganui is calling for more home visit volunteers to help them reach out to elderly people feeling lonely or at worst, disconnected from the community they live in.
Funded by Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB), Age Concern Wanganui’s Accredited Visiting Service provides companionship for the elderly and an opportunity for volunteers to really make a difference.
Age Concern Wanganui manager Tracy Lynn says following a short orientation programme, volunteers receive ongoing training and support in return for a minimum one-hour a week visit to an elderly person assigned to them.
Where possible, volunteers are matched with a person who it’s felt would share similar interests to them.
Anyone who feels this is something they would like to do, is asked to please call Age Concern Wanganui’s Accredited Visiting Service coordinator Kay Taylor  on 06 345 1799. At present Age Concern Wanganui has around 50 volunteers. The organisation would welcome having many more.
Loneliness is now a known risk factor for health problems including cardiovascular disease, depression, dementia and lowered resistance to infection.
Research shows that weak social relationships influence health as much as smoking and alcohol consumption, and more than obesity and physical inactivity.
Failing to address social isolation results in significant costs to the Government and the community through increased health costs and avoidable admissions to residential care. Recent New Zealand research indicates that eight percent of older New Zealanders are severely and chronically lonely. According to consensus predictions, this equated to more than 48,000 chronically lonely older people in 2012 – a number likely to increase as the population ages.
The Age Concern Accredited Visiting Service is an effective response to loneliness and isolation. Those who receive the service are healthier, happier, more independent and better able to connect with their communities. Volunteer visitors benefit from this valued interaction. The community is strengthened through increased participation of older people.
Age Concern New Zealand 2013