Support groups urge community vigilance after pensioner's death

Wed, Mar 21, 2012, 00:00

THE DISCOVERY of the body of a 61-year-old man, which lay undetected in a house in Wexford for almost three months, highlights the need for the public to be more vigilant about elderly neighbours, two support groups for the elderly have said.

The body of the man, named locally as Alan Moore, who was born in Britain, was discovered on Sunday after a passerby noticed there was still a Christmas tree with its lights on in the house.

She notified gardaí who then entered the house on Lower John Street, known locally as the smallest house in Wexford, where they made the discovery at about 6pm on Sunday.

The results of a postmortem examination, which was carried out on the body yesterday at Waterford Regional Hospital, are not expected for some time due to the decomposed state of the body. However gardaí have said it is not thought that foul play was a factor in the death.

Age Action said the incident should act as a wake-up call for communities across the country.

Spokesman Eamon Timmins said: “With more than a quarter of older people in Ireland living alone, and loneliness being one of the greatest problems facing many older people, communities have to be vigilant. They have to make special efforts to involve older people in community activities and to remain in regular contact with them.”

Mr Timmins also noted that the case challenged the perception that isolation was only an issue for people living in remote areas.

“Loneliness and isolation are also a problem for some older people living in the centre of towns and cities, with people streaming past their front doors each day,” he added.

The charity group Alone, which provides support to older people in need of assistance, also called on members of the public to be more aware of checking on their older neighbours.

The group’s chief executive Seán Moynihan said: “This tragedy highlights how the public can easily become disengaged from isolated older people.

“There is a stigma attached to admitting we are lonely, so people tend not to look for help or support.”