Loneliness is a personal experience – it will feel different for all of us and there is no single solution. The Looking After Each Other campaign is asking people to do a little more to help others.
Loneliness can affect anyone, but some common experiences of older age could make you more likely to feel lonely. For example, adult children may have moved away, friends or partners may have died, and health problems may make it harder to get out and see others.
The effects of loneliness can be damaging for both mental and physical health and sometimes it can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and lead to more regular visits to the GP.
Did you know?
- Nationally, more than one million older people go at least a month without talking to anyone
- More than 500,000 older people in Britain will feel lonelier at Christmas than on any other day in the year
- Half of all people aged over 75 live alone
- 18-34 year olds are equally likely to feel lonely often and feel depressed because of loneliness
The Looking After Each Other campaign is asking people to do a little more to help others. This could mean making time to pop round to see an elderly neighbour who is on their own – just for a chat. Or it could be about offering to help in simple, practical ways – like getting in some extra shopping from the supermarket.
Fighting loneliness this Christmas
We need to be especially aware of vulnerable neighbours or friends during December. You can help to make sure they’re warm enough, and have enough food or medicine if they are struggling to get out of the house. A little can go a long way – checking in on elderly neighbours can really give them a boost.
The festive period is a great time to think about others. It’s also a time when we celebrate with big meals and lots of treats. If you know someone who is going to be on their own this December, why not set an extra place for Christmas dinner? There’s always so much to go round – and it can make a huge difference to someone who might otherwise spend this festive time on their own.
Fighting loneliness all year around
Of course, it doesn’t just have to be for Christmas. Older, isolated people often need a hand cooking for themselves, so why not take round an extra plate of hot home-cooked food, or a frozen portion they can heat up or microwave? As well as being practical, it’s a nice way to share your time with a neighbour.
But there are numerous ways in which you can help fight against loneliness. For example, Yemmie and Tahmina run coffee mornings for older people who are on their own. They started running the events at the post office run by Tahmina in Sneinton – and they’ve really taken off. It’s a great way for people to get out and meet others – just for a hot drink and a chat. It can make such a difference to older people who have less contact with others.
You can get more information about loneliness and how to help others on the Looking After Each Other campaign website: www.LookingAfterEachOther.co.uk.
There is more advice from the Campaign to End Loneliness www.campaigntoendloneliness.org
If you are feeling lonely, you can get advice from Independent Age at www.independentage.org