The Aged Care Commissioner says look out for older neighbours

Photo of Aged Care Commissioner

The Aged Care Commissioner says with a large population of older people living alone in Aotearoa New Zealand, the festive season is a good reminder for people to look out for their older neighbours.

“Many of us are busy and we may not think about our vulnerable older neighbours, but touching base with them could make all the difference, or indeed save a life,” said Carolyn Cooper.

Ms Cooper’s comments come as a new social change campaign, the Hello Project, is launched to raise awareness and prompt simple actions to support older people in our communities.

“Checking in with your older neighbours, being aware of their routines and noting any changes to those routines, such as closed curtains during the day, the lights or television being left on, or calls not being answered, could trigger much needed help,” Ms Cooper said.

“Older people who live alone can be vulnerable and if injured, unable to support themselves and that’s where an aware neighbour could be the difference between life and death.”

The Hello Project was created by Greg Partington following the loss of his mother Mary after discovering her alone at home 20 hours after suffering a stroke.

Mr Partington said all the signs were there but they were not picked up. Had people living nearby been more familiar with his mother’s normal routines they may have been able to seek help sooner.

The Hello Project encourages people to find a way to connect with older neighbours by making a plan, sharing contact details or adding a regular check-in to their calendar.

Ms Cooper, says the launch of the Hello Project campaign is a great reminder that ongoing awareness and a few simple actions can make all the difference in protecting older people.

“If you are worried about a neighbour but don’t want to knock on the door, you can request a welfare check from your local police. And please don’t give up – follow up if you haven’t heard back and let’s make sure we are all cared about this festive season,” Ms Cooper said.