We all know that home is important. It is the place where we spend most of our time. Living in the most appropriate accommodation can make all the difference to being able to live independently and well. Unfortunately, as we get older our home may not suit us as well as it used to. How would you make the decision to downsize or move?
Silverlinks is a project that supports older people, who are over the age of 55, facing this tough decision about their housing and care for future life. Barbara Bailey, Silverlinks Project Development Officer, tells us more about the project.
Here at Silverlinks we help older people plan for their future housing and care needs and make sure they know who to turn to when they need help or advice.
Simple tasks like using stairs or having a bath can become a challenge, and things like illness or bereavement can affect the way we view our home. Is it too big? Has it become too difficult to manage? Often it helps to talk to someone who has faced a similar situation. Our team of volunteers at Silverlinks can offer peer support by sharing their experiences of having home adaptations done, of downsizing, or moving into sheltered accommodation. Knowing about possible options can help you to make an informed decision. When you have lived in the same place for many years, the thought of moving can be quite frightening and so talking to someone who has been through a similar experience can be very reassuring.
We asked two of the Silverlinks volunteers, Pat and Ken, to share their experiences of volunteering with the Silverlinks Project.
What made you want to become a Silverlinks volunteer?
Ken: It was from the experience of my mother who died aged 90 and mother-in-law aged 100. I thought they were both entitled to better care from the “system”.
Pat: To help others as I was helped in my time of need. When I decided to move into sheltered housing, I found talking things over with a Silverlinks volunteer very helpful.
What experiences can you share with another older person?
Ken: I have been there and wear the T-shirt, an experience I will never forget and one which I had hoped I would never have to experience.
Pat: The reasons why I reached the decision to downsize into sheltered housing. How I went about selling of my house, looking at all my options, and showing them my property to get an idea what’s available.
In what ways do you feel you have helped the older people you have been matched with?
Ken: I think they like straight talking, and as a born and bred Yorkshire man, who better to do that. I let them tell me their story and I respond to that but I do not follow a political dialogue of we can do that, we can’t do that etc. If they tell me what they’d like to try and achieve, struggle though it may be, but isn’t life designed to be a struggle? I hope I have helped them to believe that although they’re elderly there is still more left that is worthwhile.
Pat: I think they become more confident that there is lots of help out there. It’s knowing where to look and who to ask. Although it’s daunting, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I like to hear that they’ve achieved and found what they’re looking for, and I try to help give them a brighter future.
What do you enjoy about volunteering with Silverlinks?
Ken: I like talking to people and connecting with them. We must reward elderly people for the time they’ve been with us on this planet. What they’ve done has created what we are today and aren’t we lucky.
Pat: I have enjoyed meeting all these lovely people and listening to their stories and helping them. It is a worthwhile project and has benefited many people to make the right decision on their welfare and health to live the rest of their life happy and dignified.
Silverlinks are always looking for people to join their team of volunteers and to share their experiences with others. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please phone Barbara for more information on (0113) 200 9157.
Barbara delivers talks and information sessions on Housing and Care Options in Later Life to services users, staff members, or volunteers. She can also arrange Thinking Ahead workshops for those coming up to retirement age or newly retired.
Silverlinks is part of the Big Lottery’s Silver Dream fund, managed in Leeds by Care and Repair. By equipping them with the knowledge and information they need, the project helps older people reach their own decisions and helps them see what options are available to them.