Age Concern opens new centre

Age composure . . . Gwynneth Butler connects seniors with solutions at Clutha Age Concern, 7 John St, Balclutha. PHOTO: NICK BROOK

Social services organisation Age Concern has re-established at a new location at 7 John St, Balclutha, to provide a hub for care, assistance and advocacy for elderly citizens throughout the district.

‘‘We felt our position at the St John’s Ambulance depot was a bit out of the way,’’ local Age Concern contact-coordinator Gwynneth Butler said.

‘‘Clutha has a lot of elderly people and we have a huge range of services just for them, so it makes sense to be central so people can drop in, as well as get on the phone and look us up on Facebook.’’

Balclutha Age Concern has plans for an official opening on February 24 but it is already operating.

People over 65 and their family and friends caring for them can contact the Age Concern office to inquire after services such as the Volunteer Visiting Service, help and advice on legal matters like power of attorney, driving and transport, smartphone and online technology, memory and cognitive changes, safety, neglect, elder abuse and independence.

Despite the reduction of pandemic restrictions, Covid-19 remains rife in communities, meaning risk and uncertainty for the particularly vulnerable, which includes the elderly, Mrs Butler said.

‘‘I’m really interested in raising awareness about all the organisations and resources around the district and helping the community connect with it all, especially older people.’’

In April this year, Age Concern Otago chief executive Niall Shepherd said the organisation was pleased to be reaching out into Clutha.

‘‘Age Concern Otago promotes wellbeing, rights, respect and dignity for older people. We want this to be extended into Clutha as we feel services for elder abuse are not well enough represented in smaller Otago areas,’’ Mr Shepherd said.

He said Mrs Butler would be able to provide referrals, assistance, services and calls to strengthen networks with Balclutha locals and give them feedback and help when needed.

Age Concern Otago’s website defines elder abuse as older people being disrespected, hurt, ignored, manipulated, isolated, or stolen from.

Their goal is to ‘‘empower older people to live well, embrace older age and be free from harm, and the Balclutha office is open 10am to 12pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.