Being elderly can sometimes mean it is difficult to keep up regular social interaction, particularly for those living alone. Studies have shown that loneliness can have a long-lasting negative impact on one’s health. One study found that those over 80 are significantly more lonely than other elderly people. This is likely due to immobility and lack of transportation. There have been a plethora of studies that show links between loneliness and health problems both psychiatric and physical. That is why it is important to stay social to give yourself the best chance.
The Facts About Loneliness:
- 6 million older people living alone in the UK.
- 9 million older people say they feel ignored or invisible.
- Half a million older people go at least five days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all.
- Two-fifths of all older people say the television is their main company.
Social media is a new form of communication and can feel intimidating. It can sometimes appear futuristic to those who are not used to the technology. However, social media can be a fantastic means of keeping in contact with family and friends that live far away. It can feel daunting trying to navigate new technology, but it can also be a great step towards combatting loneliness. Facebook is considered the most elderly-friendly platform and many websites offer a ‘how-to-guide’ for using social media. To see our top tips for staying safe online click here.
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.
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.
Adopting a Pet:
Adopting a pet can be a great way of having some company when you need it most. The love of a pet is unconditional and is also a great way to ensure you are exercising and getting out and about. It is important to consider what kind of pet would be the most appropriate for your needs and mobility. Everyone knows the positive impact getting out and getting exercise can have on your mental health but being surrounded by nature can also curb feelings of loneliness and with a pet, you will always have a reason to leave the house and get some fresh air.
When 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 and they will be able to help you talk through how you have been feeling. If you believe someone you know is lonely, try to make time to see them or call them – life can be hectic but try and spare a thought for those who are alone. Look over our signs and symptoms page if you are concerned that someone may be lonely.