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How To Combat Loneliness

Do you know someone who is lonely? Are you lonely?

With improved transport, increased use of communication tools and the easy availability of technology such as radio and television, it may be hard to believe that more people are lonely than ever before. Apparently, one in ten older people in Britain are experiencing loneliness to such an extent it is affecting their health and can increase the onset of health problems such as dementia, high blood pressure and depression. Of course, people are living for longer which can partially explain the increase. Another reason is the fact that we are moving towards a nuclear family of parents and children rather than having the extended family within the same house – whereby grandparents also live there too. Add to that the fact that people move away to other cities or countries to work and we find that elderly adults often don’t have any relations living within 20 or 30 miles of their residence. This means it is difficult for children, siblings or cousins to pop in for a regular chat.

Remember that most people don’t like admitting they are lonely, they can see it as a weakness or feel that they will be viewed as unpopular. Hence, they may pretend that they are fine yet they really value when people visit.

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” 
― Lois LowryThe Giver

What can we, as members of our own communities, do to help combat loneliness?

  • Help them to become socially connected by encouraging them to take up internet training or computer classes. Sometimes even half an hour showing them how to use skype might be all they need to have regular contact with relatives at the other side of the world.
  • Offer them a lift. If they don’t drive or prefer not to drive in the dark, offer them a lift to the local library or to the bingo club. If you attend something such as a whist game or a book club meeting on a weekly or monthly basis, invite an elderly neighbour along.
  • Daycare centres offer elderly people a warm and inviting welcome, where they receive a hot dinner and can chat to many like-minded people.
  • Call in for a chat on a regular basis, even if it is just a case of dropping in with a copy of the newspaper and chatting about the main headlines. Try not to call in when their favourite television programmes are on though!
  • Invite one or two of your neighbours over for a family dinner or afternoon tea.

Remember – if you are calling to see an elderly person once a week, you will get a huge amount from it too. You’ll be able to have copious cups of tea (don’t forget to bring some cake) and you’ll hear lots of entertaining stories, many from long ago.

Many of our Comfort Keepers Home Carers offer a companionship service as well as providing home help and personal care. When family live far away, having a caring and compassionate person visit can make the world of difference. Contact us if you would like to find out more.

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