Reaching out from our cocoon to yours. We are still here for you.

Kay from Shannon regularly posts recipes, messages, quizzes and stories on her Facebook for friends to enjoy;

Rosemary from Limerick rings around members of her local association to see how they are doing;

Tom from Galway sends a regular message to local associations in the city to keep up their members spirits;

Anne and her fellow team volunteers from Cork and Kerry send out HSE updates to keep our members up to-date.

Eamon from New Ross keeps all the members of his local association in touch with each other.

Why do they do this? They are living the ethos of their own organisation – Active Retirement Ireland, ending loneliness by reaching out the hand of friendship and support.

We know from reading and listening to stories across the country that communities are coming together to support those in need so what is different about these stories?

All the above and many more similar stories are from people who are cocooning themselves and are still reaching out to break the everyday loneliness experienced by older people in Ireland today.

Volunteers of older people from all levels within Active Retirement Ireland are communicating with each other by email, social media, text message and phone calls because having been involved in local associations and regional activities of ARI they know first-hand  the importance of social contact has on reducing loneliness and isolation. With 25000 members and a pool of over 4000 volunteers ARI members are at the coalface in Ireland of this worldwide crisis, they are the ones who have given up their activities and social togetherness to cocoon or isolate. They are the people who ran events, brought people together, held talks and took short breaks in Ireland and now they are the people who are once again playing their part to end this crisis by staying home and isolating themselves from family and friends.

ARI knows that loneliness impacts on the overall health and wellbeing of all people but particularly older people. Recent research being carried out by a number of universities to look at the effects of prolonged quarantine and physical distancing on mental health and wellbeing is reporting high levels of depression and anxiety with nearly 50% of those surveyed experiencing loneliness leading to mental health issues. This research also reports that those aged 65 and over were the most anxious.

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Social media and the internet while a wonderful tool for modern day communications is not reaching all older people; multiple means of communication are required if we are to fight not only the Covid 19 crisis but the upcoming crisis of widespread loneliness and isolation of older people.

ARI and its teams of local and regional volunteers will continue to reach out to members to have that vital contact; to say well done you are playing your part for your community by staying home but most importantly to remind our members that their local association will return in the future. Once again older people will resume activities, running events and hosting social interactions for fun and friendship.

Just as the nation holds firm, we ask you to hang in there and look after each other. We’re almost through this. Check out this video for inspiration to #HoldFirm

Continue to lift that phone; send that text message; post that social media recipe and live the ethos of Active Retirement Ireland of reaching out to end loneliness through friendship and support.

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