Visits lift spirits of elderly

KAREN Lavelle of South Gladstone Gardens works with the elderly every day and knows all about the importance of families keeping in touch.

“When families come to visit. their faces absolutely light up. They are so proud to be able to say, ‘This is my granddaughter,’ or ‘This is my son’, they get a really big buzz out of it,” she said.

“When you talk about issues of neglect or families who just don’t care, I think it’s unbelievably sad.”

As discussed by Maya Zetlin, senior officer of Lifeline’s elderly protection unit (see above article), and the most common abusers of the elderly are adult sons and daughters, whether it be psychological abuse, financial abuse or neglect.

“I think there can be an assumption made that ‘abuse’ occurs when someone actively does something to someone else, but that’s not the case. It can be when someone does nothing at all,” Ms Zetlin said.

Ms Lavelle agreed, and said in her own experience, those elderly people who had families who visited and called often tended to live longer than those that didn’t.

“Even though we have activities and other forms of interaction here, family’s family,” she said.

“(A few people here) don’t have many visitors, if at all, and I find that really sad. One lady in particular never has anyone to come and see her and I find that she doesn’t join in too much in other activities or socialisation. It’s terribly sad and something that I don’t like to see.”

Younger people, living busier lives, may not appreciate the impact a phone call or visit can make, Ms Lavelle said.

“It really gives them a big lift. I call my mum every second day for that reason.”

South Gladstone Gardens provides individual units for the elderly but Ms Lavelle despaired for those who may be less physically able to get around.

“For those people, family visits are fundamental,” she said. “Otherwise can you just imagine sitting in your room all day.”

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