Stirling Council targets old age isolation

Stirling Council has launched a pilot project aimed at keeping older residents more connected with their rural communities.

LinkAge Stirling combats loneliness and isolation in the over-65 population by using a person’s existing support network, such as GPs, pharmacies, relatives and even self-referral, to help people stay connected.

Residents are directed to local groups and activities through referrals from their existing network of contacts and the initiative was launched at an event in the Golden Lion earlier this month.

Staff and partner agencies who work with the senior community were brought together to discuss the aims, referral procedures involved and promote the start of the programme.

LinkAge will first be delivered in the Trossachs and Teith in a bid to help the ageing community there stay connected.

Stirling Council’s adult social care panel convenor, Councillor Susan McGill, said: “Loneliness is one of the biggest concerns facing our older residents and can have a huge impact on mental health and wellbeing.

“There can be a number of issues at play, such as physical disabilities or a reduction in family size, or even just the stigma that comes with reaching out for help or letting someone know you feel alone.

“LinkAge is a way to help change that and give our over-65s another route to remain in touch by using the network of people they already have around them to stay connected to the community they live in.

“I would encourage residents to get involved and for the community to reach out to each other.”

The Trossachs and Teith area was chosen to host the pilot due to its high percentage of older adults in its population.

Officers conducted research with residents, staff, relatives and volunteers in the community to explore their experiences and the findings showed loneliness and isolation to be serious concerns for the older age group.

The research also revealed that a stigma over admitting this still pervades and prevents older adults from reaching or speaking out for help.

Once referred through LinkAge, however, a member of the team will then arrange to visit the person to discuss their interest, with new connections seen as improving their wellbeing as well as helping to address and breakdown any barriers to accessing help.

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