Wellbeing Co-ordination

By David Gledhill, Marketing and Communications Lead

AGEING Well is a complicated concept but one that we all need to know more about as we get older.

It is not just about physical health, though that is, of course, an important factor, it is also about mental health and wellbeing as well as an element of luck.

None of us knows what the future holds, but that does not stop us planning for it, and in the most part we can prepare for the majority that life throws at us.

Here at Ageing Well Torbay we regularly come across people that thought they had it all sewn up – a healthy diet, regular exercise and sound financial planning. Theirs was a rosy future, a relaxing and happy retirement, underpinned by sound finances and exciting plans.

But there are always the things that you cannot foretell – the unexpected bumps in the road that throw the proverbial spanner in the works and catapult dreams into chaos.

Health no matter how well nurtured can falter and in the worst case scenarios can lead to disability and even death.

No-one plans to lose a partner, and no-one can quite predict how they will react when they do, but life is cruel, and it happens, it happens a lot, and that is when you need help from sources you may never before have thought about, let alone researched.

Age UK Torbay is one such organisation that helps so many people, often without fanfare and nearly always ‘someone else’, a relative, a friend or even a neighbour, but never you.

There is always someone older, frailer, sadder, lonelier than you isn’t there? No, not always and no, you don’t have to be the worst of all those things before you ask for help.

One person, I have been lucky enough to meet recently suffered for more than a decade before picking up the nerve to knock Age UK Torbay’s door, and he is so glad he did. His life has changed as a result.

Likes so many people, Tony Satchwell had suffered alone and in silence, and despite everything still thought of Age UK Torbay as helping other people – older, sadder, lonelier, frailer.

Sadly having lost a decade, he now knows there is so much more to life, and he is embracing his new found friendships and activities with a gusto.

Now approaching his eighth decade, Tony wonders what took him so long to make contact and realises much of it was down to his own life experience.

Losing his partner was only the first step. Friends of many years, particularly those in relationships, started to drift away and whilst it was never said out loud, he felt pressure to ‘pull himself together.’

With no close family to turn to, Tony’s days got longer, and although he forced himself out of his Paignton flat daily, the only people he spoke to regularly were behind a shop till.

He couldn’t bring himself to walk into a café alone, couldn’t face eating alone in a restaurant and baulked at the idea of being the sole man in the corner of the bar in the pub for fear of being judged for what he was. Lonely.

Loneliness mishandled, even by the person suffering from it, can often be debilitating and finding a way forward nigh on impossible.

But it can be done, and in this case, it has led to a whole new lease of life and a determination to tell anyone and everyone who will listen that Age UK Torbay, who have offices in Dendy Road, Paignton, covering the whole of the bay is the starting point.

Now there are regular coffee mornings, lunches and even a pending holiday – all things that would have been unthinkable only a few months ago.

All it took for him was to step through the door and in his words ‘blurt out’ three simple words, ‘I am lonely.’  He was greeted with a warm welcome and a friendly sympathetic smile.

Within hours his journey had begun – he received a call from a wellbeing coordinator, which was quickly followed up with a visit to work out the best way forward and within weeks he was meeting people across the bay.

“I was stubborn; I couldn’t reach out for the help that I needed. Don’t be like me; you will be amazed. I know I was”  is now the advice Tony gives to anyone who will listen.

If you want to make contact with Age UK Torbay in Paignton, their number is 01803 555181 or email wellbeingcoordinator.torbay@nhs.net or do what he did and drop into their offices. You won’t regret it.