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Margaret Laverick is one of the bravest people I have ever spoken to. Aged 87, she has not left her home in the Scottish Borders for years.
Until recently, she was also the sole carer for Bill, her husband of 64 years, whose dementia and depression had left him unable to speak.
End - Bill - Nursing - Home - Death
In the end, she couldn’t manage and Bill had to go into a nursing home. Since his death last September, the agoraphobia that plagued Margaret for years became so intense that, today, she cannot even venture into her tiny garden. So she is imprisoned in her home, alone.
I asked if she ever meets any of her neighbours. ‘I see them go by my window,’ she told me, uncomplaining as always. So she utterly depends upon her twice-weekly conference call to The Silver Line, the helpline for older people I set up six years ago to provide a vital, liberating link to the outside world.
Circumstances - Reminder - Isolation - Members - Society
Her circumstances are profoundly moving, and a reminder of the isolation that afflicts so many older members of society. For, sadly, Margaret is far from unique. And this kind of profound and persistent loneliness all too often goes hand in hand with disabling mental health problems which are dismissed by our healthcare professionals.
It is not easy for this generation, as proud and independent as they are, to ask for help. So from agoraphobia to depression and chronic anxiety, these problems are exacerbated by a lack of support. The shocking truth is that mental ill-health in older people is routinely ignored. Some healthcare professionals too often turn a blind eye, dismissing symptoms as part and parcel of old age.
Patients - Bottle - Pills - Contact
Older patients are given a bottle of pills, if they’re lucky. But what they need is human contact.
Depression affects around a quarter of those aged 65 and over,...
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