“We talk regularly on the phone, and she proudly talks about how she managed several restaurants in the town. She loves cake so really appreciates it when we deliver a homemade piece of cake."
Dementia can be frightening. Losing your ability to remember the things you have known all your life, not being able to reason and think clearly. Add to that the isolation of lockdown and the effects for someone suffering with dementia can be devastating. The SVP works with individuals with dementia, but also with their carers, who are often under immense stress.
Pamela is one of the lovely ladies regularly visited by the volunteers of the Dementia Befriending Programme run by St Vincent’s Southend-on-Sea. She hasn’t been out of her house since her husband died last year and is now frightened to go out.
“We talk regularly on the phone, and she proudly talks about her life and how she managed several restaurants in the town. She loves cake, but she isn’t able to cook now, so she really appreciates it when we deliver a homemade piece of cake,” says one of the dedicated team of Dementia Befriending Programme volunteers.
For people like Pamela, loss of human interaction is one of the most serious problems facing older people in lockdown. As a grassroots organisation, the SVP has always seen befriending as one of the most important things we, as Vincentians, can do for someone who needs our help. It demonstrates unity, kindness and compassion.
Simple acts of kindness such as a chat over the phone, delivering a puzzle book, a jigsaw, some craft materials, or, like Pamela, a piece of cake, make a huge difference to their lives. We should nurture and appreciate our older generation for their knowledge and wisdom.
SVP President Helen O’Shea says: “Tackling loneliness requires bravery and community; bravery on the part of those who most acutely feel the solitude of loneliness, and community, because we cannot fight this alone. SVP members and volunteers reach out to the lonely, befriend them, talk, understand, and all without judgement. We provide opportunities for conversation either by phone, email or by letter. As a community, we should all strive to be ‘good neighbours’.”
If you would like to support our work befriending an older people in local communities, please donate to our Covid-19 Recovery Programme.