Huge 400pc rise in demand for alarms from terrified OAPs
THERE has been a four-fold surge in demand among senior citizens for personal alarms amid a continuing fear of crime.
The rising number making applications under the Seniors Alert Scheme has led the Government to provide an extra €400,000 for the devices.
More than 2,600 people applied for the alarms last month - over four times the previous average monthly rate of 600.
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, has urged senior citizens in both urban and rural areas to sign up for the scheme, and for people to register older relatives or neighbours.
"People are worried about crime and this scheme will enable people to feel safer and to be safer in their own homes," he said.
Around 60,000 personal alarms have been distributed to people over the age of 65 since 2010.
"If someone has an accident at home or feels their safety is under threat, they can activate their personal alarm and get assistance," Mr Ring said.
"I don't want people to feel under threat.
"I want any person who qualifies for this scheme to have one of these pendants in their home."
The scheme is administered by community organisation Pobal, which installs a base unit in a senior citizen's home that is connected to a national Seniors Alert Scheme helpline through a land line or mobile phone.
If the user activates the alarm it puts a call through to the 24-hour national call centre.
The operator speaks to the person and decides whether to alert a locally-based volunteer or, in serious circumstances, the emergency services.
Mr Ring announced in October that eligibility was being widened, dropping the previous condition that to qualify an individual had to live alone.
While Mr Ring had previously announced the scheme would be continued with funding of €2.3m, he allocated a further €400,000 to meet the rising demand.
Mr Ring said the elderly could feel vulnerable at home, especially if living in an isolated area.
In addition to encouraging new applications to the Seniors Alert Scheme, he urged people to keep an eye on elderly neighbours at Christmas.