Most of us will feel lonely at some point in our lives. For a lot of us, particularly those in later life, loneliness can define our lives and have a significant impact on our general sense of wellbeing. As almost one-fifth of the UK population (12 million people) state that they often or always feel lonely, more needs to be done to educate people on how to combat feelings of loneliness.
Studies have identified a range of factors commonly associated with being lonely in old age, which include:
This is not an exhaustive list and regardless of whether you’re experiencing loneliness on a short or longer-term basis, there are things that you can do to combat some of these feelings.
Loneliness might be described as negative feelings or sadness brought on by a lack of communication, companionship or relationships with other people. Loneliness can affect anyone of any age, but older people are particularly vulnerable to feeling lonely.
As people grow older, they’re more likely to lose loved ones, and may even live alone. They’re also more likely to experience health problems, which can make it harder to get out and about. All of these things can increase feelings of loneliness and a sense of isolation.
Symptoms of loneliness can be physical as well as mental. Some of the most common symptoms include, but are not limited to:
There are over two million elderly people aged 75 and above who live alone, and half of these people admit to spending long periods of time with little, if any social contact.
Elderly people can feel lonely for a variety of reasons including not being able to get out and about, a lack of confidence to invite people over and an inability to travel to local activities.
Investing in the services of a carer is a fantastic way of dealing with loneliness. Not only will you be visited regularly by an experienced carer who can help you maintain your independence at home, these carers will often become close friends who can also assist you with leaving the house and maintaining an active social life.
Loneliness impacts us physically as well as mentally and can be as damaging to our health as smoking or obesity.
Whether you’re feeling lonely because you have recently lost someone, or have been diagnosed with a condition that makes you feel isolated from those around you; there are things that you can do, such as the following:
Computers and mobile phones can open up a whole new world of social interaction. For example, you could use a video chat service like Skype or FaceTime to chat with friends and family who live far away. WhatsApp is another popular online messaging app that you can use to keep in regular contact with friends or family on a mobile phone or tablet.
Many people can begin to feel lonely if they think they are ‘rattling around’ in a large house that has become too big for their needs, so it may be time to consider downsizing from a large family home with too many unused rooms.
There are several other options too, such as retirement villages or a complex of flats specially designed for independent living but with communal areas where you can meet for social events.
There are a variety of self-care techniques that can help you improve your sense of well-being during feelings of loneliness. This includes:
If you feel that you’re still able to look after a pet, this can provide a much-loved companion. Dog walking with the assistance of a carer could help you to get out and about, and potentially meet new people. Taking care of a pet can lift people’s spirits, making them feel more positive and in control.
A new experience can help you meet new people and find a new passion. You could volunteer, take a class or join a new group.
If that sounds like too much for you right now, you could look into your local befriending service. Whether you’re looking for a new friend or are interested in volunteering; this is a great way to dip your toes into a new experience.
If you are interested in elderly care or feel that you could benefit from any of our other care services, please get in touch on 01245 890336.
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