LIVING LEAN: Lismore Senior Citizens’ Club president Alastair Watts says senior citizens are living modestly to get through the financial crisis, but stress is causing health problems for some people.
LIVING LEAN: Lismore Senior Citizens’ Club president Alastair Watts says senior citizens are living modestly to get through the financial crisis, but stress is causing health problems for some people. DAVID NIELSEN

Cash crisis starts to impact on people's heatlh

LISMORE man Alastair Watts has a tip for surviving the financial crisis - just 'go with the flow'.

The president of the Lismore Senior Citizens' Club said the economic situation could be stressful, but encouraged seniors to take it easy.

“We have to learn to deal with these tough times, otherwise it can get to you,” he said.

“I think that more people are getting stressed about money, but we're pretty modest down at the Senior Citizens. When rates go up, we'll complain a bit about that.

“But I have known some people with health problems, caused by money matters.

“When prices of things like groceries and petrol go up, that can make it tough on seniors.”

But for some Northern Rivers residents, their financial problems have spiralled out of control and it has affected their mental health.

Some people are now too scared to open their mail or answer their phone, Lismore and District Financial Counselling Service manager Steve Snelgrove said.

“People go into denial and hope they won't have to deal with it because it's too confronting,” he said.

Mr Snelgrove said it was a serious problem and one that was becoming more common.

In the past 12 months, his service has taken on more than 500 new clients and had 89,000 hits on its website.

“The biggest trend for us is the people who actually have jobs, but are still struggling - they made up 40 per cent of our clients last year,” Mr Snelgrove said.

Another trend has been the number of people showing signs of poor mental health.

“People are stressed out, very wound up and emotional,” he said.

“Two of our staff members had suicide awareness training.”

Goonellabah GP Andrew Binns said doctors were seeing clients who were under 'extreme stress' because they had lost money.

But Dr Binns said financial difficulties could bring the community together and improve mental health.

He also said the economic downturn could see other health benefits, such as people walking instead of driving.



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