Loneliness and social isolation within the older generation is a growing issue. There are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people living in the UK, and that number is set to reach 2 million by 2025.
A report by Age UK found that half a million older people don’t see or speak to another person for 5-6 days each week. This shouldn’t be the case; no one should feel lonely or isolated within their own home.
Loneliness has been described as an unwelcome feeling of lack or loss of socialisation and companionship and can affect anyone at any age. However, it has become a growing issue for older people. There are many health risks with chronic loneliness, including an increased risk of mental health issues, heart disease and dementia.
The reasons why someone becomes isolated or feels lonely can vary on personal circumstance and the environment around them. Poor health, loss of mobility and sensory issues can prevent someone from being able to leave their home, whilst bereavement, living alone and not having family members living close by means some people aren’t getting much social interaction at home. Factors such as a lack of public transport and lack of accessibility within the community can stop someone from going out into the community.
Companionship is a basic human need and establishes a sense of belonging. Having a companion in life, whether they are a relative, friend or carer, helps keep the mind active and prevent social isolation. Someone there to engage in conversation with, even if it’s for a few moments, encourages mental stimulation and positive thoughts, as well as reminisce memories.
Having someone trustworthy also allows people to have honest conversations about how they’re feeling. Whether it’s emotion, mental health or illness, having someone there to talk to can stop people feeling alone.
At Heritage Healthcare, we provide a range of home care services to help more people continue living independently in their own home for longer. One of the many services we provide is companionship, in which our highly trained and trusted care teams support clients to get out into their community and feel safe enjoying the activities they love. It could be a special trip out, meeting friends and family, popping to the local shops or just enjoying a cup of tea together and having a chat.