On the Other End of the Phone

If you ring Age Concern Wellington Region (ACWR), more often than not, Ann Dalziel will respond. She is the “go-to” person at ACWR who will most likely be able to help you. She is a patient listener, and as a last resort, has a list of contacts that rivals the Yellow Pages (remember them?).

During the August lockdown, Ann kept a log of the calls she received, and the subject raised by the caller. They were many and varied, with the occasional one leaving her at a loss for words. In the course of a week, she logged over 120 calls from all parts of Wellington and the Hutt Valley. Some issues were very serious, some were the result of anxiety or worries and some (occasionally) a bit puzzling.

Most calls she receives are from people who have concerns about caring for older family members or friends who are experiencing difficulties. The callers seek information on their own behalf, or for relatives or friends who are living alone and need advice.

Quite a few calls are from older people who are receiving no services and don’t know what is available to them. There are also queries about sorting out legal or relationship (even bullying) issues between family members, tenancy issues and even problems with services provided by retirement homes. Of course, there has been an increasing number of calls relating to Covid-19 testing and vaccinations.

Ann invariably provides the necessary information or directs the caller to another organisation which is set up to deal with more specific issues.

There are some slightly different concerns like the lady worried that her 86-year-old mother is still driving and shouldn’t be doing so. Age Concern Staying Safe courses for older drivers may be a helpful solution there.

Another caller had a query about wearing a face mask and the potential of losing his hearing aid when removing the mask. Another was approaching 72 years and wanted advice on how to age well. And then there was the man who rang about some dead birds!

But not all of them are quite so demanding. Ann finds that a good percentage are enquiries about the services that ACWR can and does provide. Many are about the Steady as You Go fitness and balance classes, Companion Walking Service, the Visitor Service and the Phone Friend Service.

Such services can only be provided within the limits of the funds ACWR receives from its support organisations and from the generous donations from members and friends of the organisation.

Age Concern Wellington Region receives more than 7,500 calls every year. Many of these are from seniors wanting information, advice and support.

A donation to Age Concern is always welcome, of course, to help with their wide range of activities for older people.

~ Mick Calder

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