Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

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The Silver Line: 0800 4 70 80 90 The free, 24 hour, confidential helpline for older people.

I would like to congratulate Esther Rantzen’s on her latest initiative to support lonely older people. Working with older people affected by cancer has opened our eyes to the fact that so many are lonely and frightened, these older people are not necessarily isolated, and can appear to have the support of many caring people. However, some older people with cancer have told us that even when they may be surrounded by family and friends nonetheless they can feel unbearably lonely struggling to cope with the impact cancer has on their lives. Unwilling to burden others, in particular family or friends with their worries and fear they try to struggle on alone. This is when our volunteer advocates can help, providing friendly, caring and sympathetic support. They listen to older people’s fears and concerns, and help to address these in practical ways aiming to remove all obstacles enabling older people to address these fears knowing they have support for as long as they need it.

Loneliness can cause serious damage, physically and mentally, as dangerous as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, more dangerous than obesity. A survey by the Campaign to End Loneliness found that 42% of older people reported that if they need help, they do not know where to turn.

The stigma attached to admitting loneliness, the reluctance in older people to ask for help because “there are so many other people far worse off than I am” and “I don’t want to be a burden” has meant that we have ignored and neglected the deep unhappiness created by loneliness, which is afflicting so many elderly people.

Why does The Silver Line exist?
The statistics about older people and loneliness are frightening. More than half of all 75 year olds in the UK live alone and one in ten suffers “intense” loneliness but is reluctant to ask for help. In a poll conducted to mark the national launch of The Silver Line on 25 November 2013, 9 out of 10 older people told researchers that “a chat on the phone” is the most helpful solution when they feel lonely but 1 in 4 older people say they never or seldom have someone to chat to on the phone.

About the Silver Line Helpline
The Silver Line is the confidential, free helpline for older people across the UK* open every day and night of the year. Specially trained helpline staff:
• Offer information, friendship and advice
• Link callers to local groups and services
• Offer regular befriending calls
• Protect and support those who are suffering abuse and neglect
*Silver Line Scotland will be delivered by Age Scotland in partnership with The Silver Line during week days, 8am – 8pm. At all other times calls will be answered at the nation helpline HQ.

Who is it for?
The Silver Line is a helpline for older people – the Silver Generation. We have no strict age limits but most people we speak to are over 65. So, if you think it’s for you, it’s for you.

Are All Calls Free?
The Silver Line Helpline is free to callers.
Relying on charitable donations from organisations and individuals who care about the welfare and safety of older people to fund this vital new service.

Are all calls confidential?
The Silver Line is a confidential helpline.
Callers are free to express their feelings and describe their lives honestly, and can trust us to respect their privacy.
In cases of abuse or neglect, with the callers’ permission, we will involve specialist safeguarding organisations.

Silver Line Friends and Silver Circles
If callers would like to be put in touch with Silver Line Friends, they can receive a regular weekly friendship call or email. Or they may like to join a Silver Circle and take part in a regular group call on subjects that interest them.
Silver Line Friends are volunteers who have contacted The Silver Line because they enjoy talking to older people. They are vetted and trained, and work in pairs for safeguarding and support.

Silver Line Forums
For those who want to connect online with others who have similar experiences, there are forums on a wide range of subjects that you can contribute to.

If you want to learn more about The Silver Line please click here. http://www.thesilverline.org.uk/


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Valuable Training Experience for Me!

I was asked by Alan, our local project co-ordinator if I would be interested in doing some further cancer training and I jumped at the opportunity to attend a ‘Let’s Talk Cancer’ training day in Gateshead!!

During the first session it was explained to us how cancers develop, how early diagnosis and screening can influence survival rates with many treatments available. It was explained that healthy eating, exercise and cutting out smoking and drinking can have a huge impact on reducing risk.

Patricia Lee

Patricia seen here at an earlier event

There was a session on how to build up the confidence to talk to people about cancer which would be very helpful if faced with this situation. This session was very beneficial to me and was delivered in a relaxed and easy to understand way.

I left with lots of information leaflets and details of local cancer organisations, which I will share with other members at the local Gateshead Cancer Champions meeting next week.

Though I was on my own, everyone made me feel so welcome. I enjoyed the day and learnt quite alot and was able to fully contribute. I would certainly recommend it to anyone, as a person affected by cancer myself and will be encouraging others to follow suit!!

Best of luck with your funding bid

Patricia Lee, Cancer Champion

Gateshead Cancer Advocacy, Age UK Gateshead


September 26 is Mesothelioma Awareness Day

The amazing thing about the internet is that what we post gets seen right across the world, making the world a smaller place and us all closer together. We recently received the following email from the USA and we thought you might be interested:


Be a Voice for the Victims

My name is Cameron Von St. James. I wanted to reach out to you and let you know about a campaign that my wife and I have put together with the help of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.  September 26 is Mesothelioma Awareness Day, and we are trying to get 7200 voices talking and sharing about this rare cancer, to represent the 7200 hours that the average mesothelioma patient has to live. 

My wife is a rare survivor of mesothelioma, so this day obviously means a lot to us. We aren’t asking for time, money, or donations of any kind, just voices to spread the word about this awful, and sadly little known cancer. Your blog, Older People Living With Cancer is very impressive! I was hoping that you would help support our cause by posting a link to our campaign page, so that your readers can use their voices as well! 

Here is the link, please let me know what you think when you get a chance to take a look.  Your help would mean the world to us!

Hopefully you find this and the web link as moving as we do.