Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

The Silver Line: 0800 4 70 80 90 The free, 24 hour, confidential helpline for older people.

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I would like to congratulate Esther Rantzen’s on her latest initiative to support lonely older people. Working with older people affected by cancer has opened our eyes to the fact that so many are lonely and frightened, these older people are not necessarily isolated, and can appear to have the support of many caring people. However, some older people with cancer have told us that even when they may be surrounded by family and friends nonetheless they can feel unbearably lonely struggling to cope with the impact cancer has on their lives. Unwilling to burden others, in particular family or friends with their worries and fear they try to struggle on alone. This is when our volunteer advocates can help, providing friendly, caring and sympathetic support. They listen to older people’s fears and concerns, and help to address these in practical ways aiming to remove all obstacles enabling older people to address these fears knowing they have support for as long as they need it.

Loneliness can cause serious damage, physically and mentally, as dangerous as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, more dangerous than obesity. A survey by the Campaign to End Loneliness found that 42% of older people reported that if they need help, they do not know where to turn.

The stigma attached to admitting loneliness, the reluctance in older people to ask for help because “there are so many other people far worse off than I am” and “I don’t want to be a burden” has meant that we have ignored and neglected the deep unhappiness created by loneliness, which is afflicting so many elderly people.

Why does The Silver Line exist?
The statistics about older people and loneliness are frightening. More than half of all 75 year olds in the UK live alone and one in ten suffers “intense” loneliness but is reluctant to ask for help. In a poll conducted to mark the national launch of The Silver Line on 25 November 2013, 9 out of 10 older people told researchers that “a chat on the phone” is the most helpful solution when they feel lonely but 1 in 4 older people say they never or seldom have someone to chat to on the phone.

About the Silver Line Helpline
The Silver Line is the confidential, free helpline for older people across the UK* open every day and night of the year. Specially trained helpline staff:
• Offer information, friendship and advice
• Link callers to local groups and services
• Offer regular befriending calls
• Protect and support those who are suffering abuse and neglect
*Silver Line Scotland will be delivered by Age Scotland in partnership with The Silver Line during week days, 8am – 8pm. At all other times calls will be answered at the nation helpline HQ.

Who is it for?
The Silver Line is a helpline for older people – the Silver Generation. We have no strict age limits but most people we speak to are over 65. So, if you think it’s for you, it’s for you.

Are All Calls Free?
The Silver Line Helpline is free to callers.
Relying on charitable donations from organisations and individuals who care about the welfare and safety of older people to fund this vital new service.

Are all calls confidential?
The Silver Line is a confidential helpline.
Callers are free to express their feelings and describe their lives honestly, and can trust us to respect their privacy.
In cases of abuse or neglect, with the callers’ permission, we will involve specialist safeguarding organisations.

Silver Line Friends and Silver Circles
If callers would like to be put in touch with Silver Line Friends, they can receive a regular weekly friendship call or email. Or they may like to join a Silver Circle and take part in a regular group call on subjects that interest them.
Silver Line Friends are volunteers who have contacted The Silver Line because they enjoy talking to older people. They are vetted and trained, and work in pairs for safeguarding and support.

Silver Line Forums
For those who want to connect online with others who have similar experiences, there are forums on a wide range of subjects that you can contribute to.

If you want to learn more about The Silver Line please click here. http://www.thesilverline.org.uk/

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Author: kathparson

Chief Executive of Older People's Advocacy Alliance (UK)

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