Positive Ageing Month kicked off earlier this week, with an Irish train journey fighting elderly loneliness one of the schedule’s highlights so far.
October is Positive Ageing Month across Northern Ireland, and there is no shortage of events for the country’s elderly population.
One of the highlights of the month so far was a train journey in County Derry that aimed to help the county’s elderly residents connect with each other through a cup of tea, a chat, and some light entertainment.
Positive Ageing Month – providing the elderly with a series of activities
1 October marked International Day of Older People and the beginning of Positive Ageing Month across Northern Ireland. This month-long celebration aims to provide the country’s older population with activities and initiatives to keep both body and mind active.
Events take place across Northern Ireland, and particular highlights in the capital city of Belfast include a tour of Queen’s University and the adjacent Botanic Gardens, line dancing classes, and a Halloween fancy dress ball.
The schedule is also peppered with a series of walks, talks, music sessions, and photography competitions, as well as advice for the elderly on money-saving and energy efficiency in the face of the current cost of living crisis.
Derry to Coleraine – the train journey fighting elderly loneliness
One of the month’s highlights took place on Monday (2 October) in the form of a train journey between Derry and Coleraine that offered elderly residents the chance to reminisce and connect with one another over a cup of tea.
Shona McEleney of Glendermott Medical Practice in Derry explained that the idea came from an older couple who attend the practice’s dementia social café.
“They talked about reminiscing and going on the train,” McEleney said. “So we thought this would be a good idea to bring people together to chat, connect, and reduce isolation”.
Passengers enjoyed a pre-departure performance from a theatre company for people with learning disabilities, while a ukelele band provided some onboard entertainment that had the passengers dancing in the aisle.
Reactions – “I’ve gotten to know a lot of people”
If you think this sounds like a lot of fun, you’re not alone! Passenger Annabelle O’Kane says, since retiring, she really enjoys “going out and meeting other ladies who are the same as myself” at events like this.
“I think more people should push themselves a wee bit and get out more”.
Co-passenger Mary Power returned to the Derry village of Eglinton six years ago after spending 50 in London. She described the importance of events like the train journey for making friends since her return:
“When I came back, apart from two sisters, I didn’t know anybody, so since meeting up in places like this, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people now, which is lovely”.
The full schedule of events across Northern Ireland for the remainder of the month can be found here.