Minister sets aside €26m to alleviate loneliness among the elderly

Pensioners on a bench
Many pensioners will have less to spend. Photo:

The health ministry is drawing up a package of measures to alleviate loneliness among the elderly, including an annual visit to check up on everyone over the age of 75, broadcaster RTL Nieuws said on Tuesday.

Health minister Hugo de Jonge has allocated €26m to the project, RTL said. According to ministry figures, 700,000 elderly people feel lonely at times and that will rise to 1.1 million by 2030.

One measure includes developing a special programme of volunteers and professionals who will visit everyone over the age of 75 once a year to assess if they are lonely and help draw up an action plan.

Councils will also be encourage to set up a hotline where neighbours can report potential problems and develop a 24-hour phone service which lonely old people can ring.

The government also plans to map ‘at risk’ areas where large numbers of elderly people live and work with housing corporations to develop small scale local amenities such as small parks with benches where people can sit.

The presence of shops and a community centre also reduce the risk that people will become lonely, the ministry is quoted as saying.

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