Be generous with you time and your heart > It would be hard to have missed the tragic case of the Bristol pensioner Olive Cooke who committed suicide after being overwhelmed by endless cold calls and begging letters from charities. Heralded as Britain’s oldest poppy seller, Olive could not cope with the high level of fund-raising letters and had no more money to give.
Public disgust over charities’ hard sell tactics filled the newspapers with quotes like, “These money grabbers are in for a rude awakening. Relatives are now going to check their loved one’s bank accounts and cancel direct debits to charities.”
Equally condemned were the so cold psychics who wrote to Olive claiming sending them money would keep bad luck away.
To be fair there were other problems which contributed to Olive’s suicide, including health concerns, but the case underlines the need to protect the vulnerable from the unscrupulous.
Those at greatest risk are elderly living on their own. Tonic’s therapists speak to stressed pensioners who say they feel overwhelmed by suffering in the world and their inability to help. The older they get the more anxious they become that their generosity is not keeping pace with demand. Give once and they open the floodgates for donation requests.
The ‘victims’ don’t realise that these charities target everybody – instead they feel special and worry they will get some sort of reputation if they don’t donate.
There is no point in Tonic in trying to explain to the elderly how to manage their compassion and ration their finances, as generosity is inherent to their personalities. But over-generosity could be a sign of deeper problems, such as loneliness; so if you are a carer or relative, please watch over them.
And if you are one of our elderly clients reading this Blog, don’t let these mass marketing appeals steal your happiness. There is no shame in not watching the news, not opening unsolicited mail or only answering the phone when you recognise the number (ask a grandchild to set up call blocking on your phone!).
You have worked hard all your life, so enjoy your money, give what you can afford and if the problems of the world seem too depressing, you know who to phone …