Financial hardship a hidden issue among elderly

Some cutting back on essentials to pay bills
  • Deborah Condon

Financial hardship is forcing some older people in Ireland to cut back on essentials, such as heating, in order to balance their budgets, ALONE has said.

The charity, which supports older people to age at home, has launched its pre-Budget submission and a new finance campaign, ‘Let's Talk Money'.

"Many people assume that older people have their financial needs met by their State pension. However, financial hardship is often a hidden issue among older people and one not many are willing to talk about. And yet, financial difficulties are the third most common issue experienced by older people who come to ALONE for support," explained ALONE CEO, Seán Moynihan.

He pointed out that currently in Ireland, older people receiving the Contributory Pension get €248.30 per week, while the poverty line in Ireland is €252.11. ALONE is calling for an increase of at least €7 to the State pension in the 2020 Budget.

"We have worked with people experiencing similar conditions today to those that ALONE was first set up to prevent more than 40 years ago. This includes older people living without indoor bathroom facilities and in unsafe housing conditions, who are experiencing financial abuse, and who cannot manage to pay their monthly expenses," Mr Moynihan said.

Figures show that in 2017, over 63,000 people over the age of 65 were living in enforced deprivation.

Some of the most frequent cases seen by ALONE staff include the impact of rising accommodation costs, as an increasing number of older people living in private rented accommodation are facing rent increases.

For example, ALONE is currently working with a 74 year-old woman who received a notice to quit her private rented accommodation. She was unable to find affordable rental accommodation and is now living in a B&B.

Other common issues include difficulties maintaining housing standards, paying utility bills and paying for home supports. Some older people are resorting to cutting essentials. For example, they are waiting until their home gets too cold to manage before putting the heat on, or are staying in bed to save on fuel costs.

Mr Moynihan said that it is vital that older people who are in vulnerable circumstances are not forgotten in this year's Budget."

"ALONE staff work with older people every day who are experiencing financial hardship, and we create individualised support plans for each person. For any older person who may be experiencing financial difficulties today, we are encouraging you to reach out to ALONE and to talk about it. Support is available and financial hardship is not something that anyone has to experience alone," he added.

Budget 2020 will be announced on October 8.

For more information on ALONE, click here.


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