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Tackling loneliness in later life

Posted by cornwallcare on September 18, 2019

Loneliness is something that can affect anyone of any age or situation and can have a serious effect on both your physical and mental health.

Older people can be particularly vulnerable with 3.6 million people in the UK over the age of 75 living alone according to Age UK, and more than 1.9 million saying they often feel ignored or invisible.

There are a variety of different reasons for people becoming lonely as they get older, including the death of a spouse, close friends or family members, separation from family, missing the social aspects of work or due to a disability or illness.

We’ve put together some suggestions on what you can do to combat loneliness:

  • Take opportunities to connect with old acquaintances or make new ones. Community events and groups can offer a great way of socialising and meeting new people in your local area, whilst reaching out to friends or family that you have lost touch with could re-establish connections that were once close.
  • If you’re physically able and the idea of getting back to work appeals, why not volunteer for a local charity? Working with others provides a great opportunity to meet new people whilst also giving structure to your week.
  • Find new ways to socialise using technology. Video calls, emails, texts and social media could really help you to stay connected with friends and family who don’t live locally. Make some enquiries to find where the nearest computer course is taking place and head along to learn all the skills you need to get started. Alternatively, why not ask a relative or neighbour to help?
  • Start a conversation. Whether you chat to the postman, your local shop keeper, or people in passing during your day to day activities, relationships don’t have to be close to be meaningful. Everyday conversations can mean a lot and make a real difference.
  • Try to open up about how you’re feeling. This can help you to feel less alone whilst also letting those close to you (whether emotionally or in terms of physical locality) know and allow them to try and help.
  • Take advantage of the services available to help. Why not sign up to Age UK’s ‘Call in Time’ scheme where you’ll be matched with a volunteer who has similar interests for a friendly, weekly chat over the phone.
  • If you’re a resident of Cornwall, why not drop in and join us at one of the Cornwall Care homes for a home cooked meal, Sunday lunch or to enjoy any of the activities or entertainment organised by our Activities Co-ordinators? Alternatively, just come in for a chat and some companionship. Get in touch to find out more about the opportunities in your area.

Helping others

Many people who are feeling lonely may not feel able to talk about it, therefore spotting the signs is important. These can range from neglecting their appearance to not eating properly, or simply knowing that they’ve had a change in circumstances – such as losing a loved one – that will have affected them greatly.

Whether you have older family members or neighbours, taking the time to simply be there for them can provide great comfort. Inviting them for tea, dropping round for a catch up or just stopping for a chat could mean the difference between a good or bad day for someone living and feeling alone.

If you have a family member who does not live locally, why not help them to learn how to use their computer, mobile phone or other technology to keep in touch, as well as encouraging them to seek support or to find activities or groups in their local area that would allow them to socialise.