Anyone can experience loneliness; however, older people are especially vulnerable to feelings of isolation and loneliness. These feelings can also have a big impact on an older person’s health. Many older people find it more difficult to get out and about but it’s not all doom and gloom, as there are ways to overcome this social problem.
Figures released by Age UK show that over 2 million people aged over 75 live on their own and over one million of these people can go for a month or more without speaking to anyone. There are numerous reasons for this kind of isolation. An older person may feel too weak to go out, retirement may have left them with feelings of a lack of purpose, they may have a spouse or partner who has passed away or disability or illness has knocked their confidence or physical ability.
This level of isolation can lead to depression, along with a very real decline in physical and mental wellbeing. It can difficult to reach out to someone and admit being lonely. Pride can make us feel ashamed and feel like there is a stigma attached to being on our own.
So, what can be done to improve this situation?
Independent or assisted residential complexes or park home sites can offer more of a community feel and make it easier for older people to have more contact with neighbours and friends. For Residential Park Homes, visit a site like http://www.parkhomelife.com/
It’s easy to feel that nobody cares when you’re feeling down but why not offer an invitation for friends and family to come and visit? For another person to host a social gathering, the charity Contact the Elderly holds regular tea parties for those who live alone.
The Silver Line is a helpline set up for older people living alone where volunteers are available for a simple chat. Age UK and Friends of the Elderly can also arrange for a phone call each week or every fortnight from a friendly volunteer to have a chat and make sure everything is ok.
If family aren’t local, perhaps a computer could help you to stay in touch. Many people find sharing emails and video calls with friends and family can help to reconnect. Perhaps you could locate old friends on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Should a keyboard or touchscreen prove uncomfortable, there are speech recognition tools that can aid in communication.
Local community centres are often a great source of events, meetings and activities such as book clubs, quiz nights, choirs or bridge clubs, for example. There are also regional and national organisations to consider that might operate in your local area, such as the Women’s Institute, for example.
One of the benefits of getting older is that public transport is cheaper, and often free locally. Don’t wait for people to come to you, but get out and travel to see them. For anyone with mobility issues or living in remote areas, The Royal Voluntary Service is able to put people in touch with volunteers to provide free transport.