5 suggestions that may help combat the effects of chronic Loneliness.
Friday, September 11th, 2015 | Raising Awareness
We have all had the feeling of being alone…not always a good feeling. Sometimes it is ok to be alone but what if you had to spend most of your time as a solitary being?
Loneliness is an issue, a big issue. Loneliness has been linked to the development of a number of serious chronic health conditions, including depression, high blood pressure and dementia. We know that people who experience loneliness are more likely to smoke and drink too much, and less likely to exercise and adhere to a medication regime. Loneliness is therefore correlated with poor health, and causes some of the behaviours that can harm our mental, physical health and general well being.
21st century society is meant to be more connected; this is certainly true in the case of (Social) Media but what about fundamental human contact? It seems that this is a connection that communities are losing and as a consequence some of the most vulnerable people in society are suffering.
It’s estimated that about 1,100,000 older people in the UK feel lonely all or most of the time Over half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over live alone (ONS, 2010). Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company (Age UK, 2014)
In Japan, nearly 30,000 people die alone every year and they have even coined a word for it, kudokushi, which means ‘lonely death’. How many lonely deaths do we have in Britain where, according to Age UK, a million older people have not spoken to anyone in the last month?
Recently the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, stated that People should consider inviting elderly strangers to live with them for a while to reduce isolation and the number of pensioners dying a “lonely death”. He is also urging people to keep in closer touch with older relatives, friends and neighbours. Hunt will highlight the case of a man found in Edinburgh last week three years after he died, and the eight council-funded “lonely funerals” a day in England, half of which involve over-65s.
“Are we really saying these people had no living relatives or friends? Or is it something sadder, namely that the busy, atomised lives we increasingly lead mean that too often we have become so distant from blood relatives that we don’t have any idea even when they are dying?” Jeremy Hunt recently told the annual conference of the Local Government Association.
Surely we should be persevering to make Britain one of the best places in the world to grow old in?
What can you do if you or someone you know is feeling lonely? Here are 5 suggestions:
It is a well known fact that without a purpose in life, we may be a little lost. Volunteering is a way of meeting with people, whether it is helping at an animal sanctuary, charity shop, helpline, as a fundraiser or simply helping to build awareness. You can gain immense satisfaction knowing that you have shared your compassion and ‘cared’ for a purpose.
- Take up a new activity
Joining one of the many clubs in your local community will help you to get out and about and meet new people who are often in the same position as you. To find clubs, you can check your local community news paper, circulars or go to your local community notice boards which are often found at local shops or village hall notice boards. Clubs may range from Bridge, knit & chat groups, chess clubs, bowling or meet up groups.
- Learn a new skill; enrol on a course
You are never too old to start learning a new skill and in fact this has proven to be of great benefit to your health. What about a computer course? An Art course? Learn a new instrument…
- Talk to someone about how you’re feeling
You may be surprised at how many people will be willing to lend you an ear or a shoulder. It can be the hardest thing to start to open up and to discuss how you are feeling but a problem shared is a problem halves, so they say. You may start with your local GP or nurse. There are also many organisations out there that have people trained to deal with calls and queries. (See below)
- Contact one of the many groups (below), set up specifically to help combat loneliness:
Charity providing information, advice and support for the elderly – including local befriending schemes
Telephone: 0800 169 6565
Campaign to End Loneliness
Organisation set up to help reduce loneliness in older age through a network of national, regional and local organisations and people working together as a community to reduce loneliness later on in life
Contact the Elderly
Volunteers organise regular Sunday afternoon tea parties for people over 75, who live with little or no social support.
Telephone: 0800 716543 / 0207 240 0630
Charity offering support and advice for people with depression.
Telephone: 0845 123 23 20
Website: https://friendsinneed.co.uk/ – community for people with depression
Friends in Need
See Depression Alliance, above
A charity that gives advice and support for older age, including befriending services.
Advice line: 0800 319 6789
Royal Voluntary Society (RVS)
Charity offering befriending, local transport services and activities for older people.
Telephone: 0845 608 0122
Information and holidays for people over 50.
24-hour support for anyone having a difficult time
Telephone: 08457 90 90 90
The Silver LineFree
Confidential 24-hour phone line for older people offering information and friendship. People can call anytime for advice, information or simply a chat – the charity also offers a befriending service. Silver Circles are conference calls for several like-minded people who would like to chat in a group.
Helpline: 0800 4 70 80 90
Advice for older people about using the internet
University of the Third Age (U3A)
Charity with local groups offering educational, creative and leisure opportunities for older people.
Telephone: 020 8466 6139
Information about volunteering opportunities.
Information about volunteering opportunities in Wales.
Here at Kare Plus we fully understand the issues that surround loneliness and the impact that it can have on people’s lives and general health and well-being. Many of our clients have at times suffered loneliness and this is something our workforce is geared up to tackle. All our branches offer an open door policy and staff are employed for their caring nature, are on hand to assist, guide or help with any crisis calls, pleas for help or simply offer someone to talk to. With many of our workforce being dementia friends as well as being trained to deal with mental health, addiction or abuse issues, Kare Plus are on hand to support people who feel lonely on a local basis. We are also proud to participate in the campaign to end loneliness.