Loneliness has been a huge challenge for lots of us in 2020. Government statistics published earlier this year reveal that 2.6 million adults in Britain reported feeling lonely often or always during lockdown. Elderly people are often more likely than younger adults to experience loneliness, particularly those living alone. Perhaps you’re an older person struggling with loneliness, or you know somebody else who is feeling lonely. Either way, today’s article will share some helpful tips and advice on how to fight loneliness in old age.
The Facts About Loneliness:
Studies show that loneliness can have a long-lasting negative impact on health. One study found that those over 80 are significantly more lonely than other elderly people. This is likely due to issues with mobility and transportation. Furthermore, the older you get, the more likely you are to live alone. Several studies suggest that loneliness can cause or exacerbate health risks. Furthermore, loneliness can increase the likelihood of mortality by a similar amount to smoking and obesity. But how many people are at risk here in the UK?
- 3.8 million older people live alone in the UK.
- People who live alone are 1.6 times more likely to be lonely often.
- 1.9 million older people say they feel ignored or invisible.
- More than half a million older people don’t see or speak to anyone for five or more days a week.
- Around 5 million older people consider television their main form of company.
How to Fight Loneliness in Older People
As you can see, loneliness is a very serious issue for lots of older people in the UK. But this needn’t be the case. Next, let’s look at some of the ways to fight loneliness among older people.
More older people than ever are embracing modern technology in the form of smartphones and tablets. These are great tools in the fight against loneliness, especially during the pandemic. With a smart device, you can make video calls with your family and friends no matter how far away they are. While it might not compare to seeing them in real life, hearing their voices and seeing their faces on screen can give you an important boost.
If these devices aren’t your thing, there’s nothing wrong with a good old fashioned telephone call. Alternatively, try exchanging emails to keep in touch.
Social media is a new form of communication and we know it can feel a little daunting to beginners. However, social media can be a fantastic means of keeping in contact with family and friends that live far away. It’s become even more crucial in 2020, as we haven’t been able to meet up with our loved ones safely. Trying to navigate new technology can be a challenge, but it can also be one of the most effective ways to reduce loneliness. There are plenty of websites to choose from, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also find guides and tutorials online to help beginners get to grips with social media. You can also click here to read our top tips for staying safe online.
Join a Society
Another great tool for fighting loneliness is by joining a local society or group. There are many groups that meet on a regular basis across the country and can help you to meet others with similar interests. This can be a fantastic way to stop yourself from feeling lonely and isolated. Age UK has created a handy section where you can search for activities and events close to you. To visit their site click here.
During the pandemic, most groups and societies are unable to meet in person. However, many are offering virtual meetings using video-call software like Zoom.
Volunteering is a great way to give back to your local community as well as getting out and meeting new people. The government have a website which lists volunteering opportunities local to you. Volunteering can also give you a real sense of pride which can help improve mental health. It can give you a sense of purpose, which can increase confidence, self-esteem, and help you engage with other people.
Adopting a Pet
Adopting a pet is a great way to find companionship. It can also be a great way to ensure you are exercising and getting out and about. We all know the positive impact that fresh air and exercise can have on our mental health. With a dog, for example, you will always have a reason to leave the house and get some fresh air. You should consider what kind of pet would be the most appropriate for your needs and mobility.
The problem of loneliness among older people is well-document. As a result, there are lots of national and local services in place to support older people who are struggling with loneliness. Befriending services are both popular and effective. A befriending service will pair you with someone who can contact you by phone for regular chats. You will be able to speak to the same person each time and get to know them, forging a new friendship together. The Befriending Network has a directory to help you find services near you.
Are You Struggling With Loneliness?
If you are feeling lonely, it is important to reach out to those closest to you and tell them how you are feeling. If you don’t feel like you can reach out to anyone around you, call the Samaritans on 116 123. The number is totally free to call from a landline or a mobile. Samaritans will offer you a safe space to talk through your concerns and ask you questions to understand how you feel.
If you think that someone you know is feeling lonely, try to make time to call them or see them if you can do so safely. Life can be hectic, but try and spare a thought for those who are alone. If you’re not sure, look over our Signs of Isolation page for more information.
Worried for Someone Living Alone?
If someone you know lives by themselves, it’s only natural to worry about them. You might be concerned about what might happen if they have a fall or other emergency. A Careline alarm can help. The simple system ensures that people living alone will always have access to help in an emergency. Alarm users can press an emergency button on their pendant to call for assistance. Our 24/7 Care Team will answer the call and reassure the alarm user while arranging the appropriate help. This usually involves calling the user’s chosen emergency contacts, but we will also contact the emergency services where necessary.
To find out more about the Careline alarm service, give us a call on 0800 101 3333 or get in touch online today. You can also order a Careline alarm online, either for yourself or on behalf of someone you know. Alternatively, we also accept referrals.
Note: we updated this article on 09/12/20 to include up-to-date information. It was originally published 29/02/20.