There are great debates going on at the moment about caring for the elderly who live alone and the cost of same. I am reminded that in days gone by, especially in winter and at Christmas, the general public was asked to ‘pop in and see if your neighbour needs anything’. Those pleas would come at Christmas when the general public was asked to remember that not everyone had family to provide the Christmas spirit. Joe and I did our bit for the neighbours but that was a long time ago. Once we moved we were among people a lot younger than ourselves so the necessity to keep an eye on the elderly was removed.
Now that I have reached old age I have begun to wish those media reminders would start again. Why? Because from one week’s end to another I seldom see people unless I go out to the shops which, fortunately, I can still do. But for how long? It’s kind of scary to think things might get worse. Don't misunderstand me, I like my own company, I don't sit and brood, I get on with things, I write, I make plans, go out to lunch with a friend, and there's my monthly involvement with the Women's Institute and Townswomen's Guild.
Recently I ventured to visit my immediate neighbours and was greeted with ‘Hello, Stranger’. Gone are the days, apparently, when people actually cared.
Okay, I have been told to call in at any time but often ‘any time’ appears to be inconvenient. I have been greeted with ‘Oh, dear, I’ve just got back from shopping’ or ‘hubby is having a lie down’ or ‘I have an appointment in half an hour’. So the upshot of this is that I don’t go. I am sure they don’t realise the effect their remarks have on me. I am fairly independent and still have outside interests, nevertheless it hurts at those times when I haven’t had a soul to speak except the girl in the shop.
I am not complaining – or am I? However, I do worry about the future and what will happen to me then? Fortunately I have an alarm button I can press in dire emergencies. If that should happen the folk at the other end of the phone can contact – yes, my next door neighbour – in an emergency. I just hope she isn’t out shopping or having a lie down! Looking on the bright side, though, if there is no response police or ambulance services will rush out. That’s some consolation, I can tell you.
Toend this tale of apparent misery (no, not really) I want to explain that the elderly are getting older and many of them live alone. Please do have a look round and see if there is anyone you could say ‘Hi’ to or pay them a visit – especially in winter and at Christmas. A kind word here and there actually makes life worth living for some elderly folk. Remember, it might be you one day!