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New help for the lonely elderly

by Simon Collins, New Zealand Herald, 30 September 2016

Mr Collins, the social issues reporter for the Herald, reports on new services offering help to elderly immigrants and those who live alone.

Economist Dr John Lepper, who chairs a new Silver Line Trust planning a help and “chat line” for the elderly, said many older people felt isolated.

“There are 160,000 people over 65 who live alone,” he said.

“About 10 per cent or more of those people appear to be chronically lonely, and the evidence from various health surveys suggest that in itself is a serious health risk. It’s a bit like smoking 15 cigarettes a day or drinking to excess.”

Silver Line, modelled on a service of the same name in Britain, will use mainly volunteers to provide a listening ear for older people.

“Many people ring up a helpline of this type without really knowing what their problem is. You have to tease them out,” said Lepper.

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