The elderly in Ireland are taking advantage of a senior helpline and staying connected to their community. The service began nine years ago and is now operating in 13 centers around the country.

One aspect of this service which makes it very unique is that it is peer-to-peer. The volunteers are people between the age of 60 – 92 and the callers are between the ages of 50 – 75.

Mary Nally, the Helpline coordinator, makes certain that the lines are open seven days a week, 365 days a year and “callers to the helpline are guaranteed to hear the voice of another older person at the end of the line.”

Over the years, the types of calls received have changed. It used to be that more elderly called in the winter months when the gloomy weather and holiday blues brought on feeling of depression and loneliness. But now the Helpline is seeing a 27% increase in calls during the summer.

Helpline volunteer Colm O’Connor explains that “in summer a lot of people are isolated as family are on holidays and that, coupled with the misery of the weather, has kept our volunteers very busy. Our volunteers are dealing with a lot of difficult calls about depression.  It is hard for callers because families are away.”

Services like Helpline in Ireland are essential as more elderly are choosing to age in place. It is important that elderly stay connected and have someone to reach out to in rain or shine all year long.