Check In and Chat – keeping lonely older people connected

Last April, in response to COVID, Age NI launched Check In and Chat – a weekly friendly phone call service for some of the most lonely and isolated older people in Northern Ireland.

With donations from supporters like you, in the last year we have delivered more than 20,000 weekly calls to older people, some of whom don’t speak to any other person from one week to the next. Many have not left their own home for over a year.

The deadly impact of loneliness

As things get back to a new normal for most of us, life for many older people living alone in Northern Ireland is unlikely to change. For them, loneliness is their normal.

The level of loneliness and isolation older people have faced is hard to imagine. One lady described it as excruciating.

Loneliness has a health risk equal to smoking a packet of cigarettes a day, with knock-on effects including rapidly increased frailty and a rising risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia and depression. With your support, we can help to combat this devastating loneliness.

Home. Alone

75-year-old Jim lives alone, and while he has family to deliver groceries and say hello from afar, he has been on his own since the beginning of lockdown in March 2020.

By the autumn, the long days of isolation had taken a terrible toll and Jim was referred to Age NI:

“I had lost interest in everything. My family were working round the clock in the health service and I didn’t want to burden them. I knew they were staying away to keep me safe. I went from having my football, my clubs and outings with my friends and family, to having nothing but an occasional walk to the corner shop. I sat in the house for days and days at a time."

"I got lower and lower and I was struggling to see a way through it. And then I found Laura – or rather, through Age NI, she found me. I can honestly say, she saved my life.”

Read Jim's full story here.

With your help, we can continue providing friendship and connection to lonely older people. Give a gift today to support people like Jim.

Listen to Jim discussing how Check In & Chat helped him:

If you would be interested in volunteering for our Check In & Chat service, please click here.