The festive season has always been a time for celebrating with family and friends, but it also highlights the issue of loneliness that is affecting our older generation. Elderly loneliness is not just for Christmas; 3.6 million older people in the UK live alone, and 1.4 million say they struggle with loneliness.
The topic of elderly loneliness has been at the forefront of conversation this year, within parliament and through AGE UK and Cadbury’s campaign, ‘Donate Your Words’. AGE UK discovered 225,000 older people often go a whole week without speaking to anyone.
The campaign not only raised money with each chocolate bar brought to help AGE UK, but it also saw TV presenter Sue Perkins experience 30 hours in isolation without speaking to anyone. The video from the campaign can be watched below.
There is a difference between loneliness and social isolation. Loneliness is the feeling of not meeting the desired levels on social contact, whilst social isolation is a measure of the amount of time people spend without interacting with other people.
People aged over 50 years old are more likely to feel lonely and isolated if they don’t have someone to open up to, if they are widowed, suffer from poor health or don’t feel they belong within their neighbourhood. This can have a huge effect on health; research has found loneliness is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
This December, we have relaunched our Combating Elderly Loneliness campaign and will be sharing information and advice on how you can support someone within your community.
At Heritage Healthcare, we are providers of home care and support services to help people continue living at home for longer. Our companionship service aims to stop our clients feeling lonely and reassures them that a friendly, trusted face will be popping in to visit them.