Death Highlights Plight of Isolated Older People

A support group for the elderly has urged communities across Ireland to be aware of  the needs of their older neighbours after the body of pensioner who died at Christmas was found in a house in Wexford over the weekend.

The man who died alone in a small terraced house in Wexford town at Christmas lay undiscovered until Sunday evening, when a woman passing on the street noticed a Christmas tree with lights on. Thinking it unusual she called the Garda.

When gardaí gained access to the house on Lower John Street in the centre of the town they found the decomposed remains of a man in his 60s who was originally from Britain.

Age Action said today: "This sad incident must act as a wake up call for every community".

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."

Age Action also noted that the case challenged the perception that isolation was only an issue for people living in remote areas

Local people said the man did not mix much during his time in Wexford, and seemed to be a very private person.

The man’s remains lay on the floor in a bedroom of the small rented terraced house for weeks, his home still fully decorated for Christmas.

The body had apparently been in the spot where it was discovered for nearly three months without anybody noticing the man was no longer around and despite the Christmas tree with lights still on being visible from the street.

Fr Aidan Walsh of the local Franciscan Friary across the road from where the man was found said people from the area were shocked when news broke on Sunday that the he had been dead in a house in a busy part of the town for so long without anyone noticing.

“We didn’t know anything about it until we saw a commotion going on across the street on Sunday evening,” he said.

“We are shocked that someone was found like that. It’s very sad.”

The one-storey house where the man lived is widely known as the smallest house in Wexford.

The deceased’s name was not being officially released until the man’s family had been informed of his passing but his identity is known locally. He had lived in Wexford town for a number of years, and is believed to have lived in Kerry for a much longer period after moving to Ireland from England.

After the man’s remains were found at around 6pm on Sunday, the body was moved to Waterford Regional Hospital for a postmortem.

A spokesman at Wexford Garda station said they were not treating the death as suspicious.

He said it looked like the man had been dead for a long time. The woman who raised the alarm did so because she thought it was odd that the Christmas tree was still up in spring with its lights still on.

Investigating officers are now trying to piece together how the man’s death could have gone unnoticed for so long in a busy street close to the centre of town.

(Source: Irish Times)