Brian Sloan: Help with many issues facing people in later life is just a free phone call away

We’ve all been there – faced with an unfamiliar issue or unforeseen problem and not entirely sure where to turn. Some of us might grab our phones and search the internet in the desperate hope for answers. Faced with a multitude of sites offering wisdom and advice, which one do you choose?
Brian Sloan, Chief Executive, Age ScotlandBrian Sloan, Chief Executive, Age Scotland
Brian Sloan, Chief Executive, Age Scotland

For many of us, the age of 24/7 news and information means the world is at our finger tips no matter where we are. And with such a huge amount of information and support out there, the trouble is being able to wade through it and find out what is relevant and applicable to your circumstance.

Trying to find solutions to the things that impact your life or that of a family member can be truly frustrating, particularly when it’s a bolt from the blue. And as soon as you discover the solution you really wish you had known about it sooner.

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But what if you are one of the half million people in Scotland over the age of 60 who do not use the internet? Where do you turn? Or what if you just want to speak directly with a friendly person without having to navigate a plethora of keypad options?

Scotland’s helpline for older people and their families

Luckily, help on a wide variety of issues facing people in later life is just a free phone call away. For people over 50 years old and their families, Age Scotland’s free and confidential phone helpline is available for information, friendship and advice.

There are so many challenges later life can bring. People have questions about social care, making sure they have enough money, local social activity opportunities, legal issues such as establishing power of attorney, workplace rights, housing options, dementia, transport, an energy efficient home, support for older military veterans, mental health, the list can go on and on. Our skilled team of advisers talk people through their problems and questions to help find a resolution.

Free benefit and entitlement checks for older people

One of the Age Scotland helpline’s most frequent types of calls is about benefit entitlements. Huge numbers of people are missing out on what they are entitled to. Last year we were able to identify £600,000 in unclaimed benefits for older people and this year we are on track for more.

These unclaimed entitlements can range from pension credit, which tops up the state pension of the lowest recipients, council tax relief, attendance allowance, carers allowance and increasingly for those of traditional working ages, Universal Credit.

We know that older people in Scotland are missing out on hundreds of millions of pounds in entitlements. Four in ten people who should claim pension credit, don’t. This can be because they are unaware of the support available or feel that negotiating government agencies is too hard to do. That’s where we step in to help.

The underclaiming of entitlements means that people also miss out on critical support associated with that benefit. For instance, when the “Beast from the East” hit Scotland last year people on pension credit would have automatically received money into their bank account as a Cold Weather Payment which automatically gets paid out when the temperature drops below freezing for a prolonged period of time, giving older people the confidence to use their heating appropriately without fear of not being able to pay the bill when it arrives.

No one should have no one to turn to

New policies are enacted by governments and councils coming out all the time, often impacting older people. Age Scotland’s Helpline regularly hear from people who don’t know about a policy change until it negatively impacts them, which can cause significant levels of stress and sometimes impact their finances. We aim to be ahead of this by identifying what has changed and what support is available to people when they call.

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No one should have no one to turn to. So when times get tough or you just want to get answers to the challenges of later life, the Age Scotland Helpline is here for you. And if we can’t help, we’ll know who can.

So instead of wasting your lunch hour on Google, hop on the phone and speak to a real person who understands your frustrations and can provide you with the information and advice to resolve your problem.

The Age Scotland Helpline is free and confidential. Call 0800 12 44 222 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm

Brian Sloan, Chief Executive, Age Scotland,