With Christmas and New Year fast approaching, Bay Health and Care Partners would like to share some tips on how to overcome loneliness and social isolation during a time when it is easy to feel alone.
According to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone and more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
People can become socially isolated for a variety of reasons, such as getting older or weaker, no longer being the hub of their family, leaving the workplace, following the deaths of spouses and friends or through disability or illness.
Dr Jim Hacking, local GP in Morecambe Bay and Executive GP Lead for Mental Health at NHS Morecambe Bay CCG said, “Feeling alone and vulnerable can lead to depression and a serious decline in physical health and wellbeing.
“Someone who's lonely probably also finds it hard to reach out to others and with a stigma surrounding loneliness, people tend not to ask for help.
“It's important to remember loneliness can – and does – affect anyone, of any age.”
Here are a few tips to help combat loneliness and social isolation.
- Invite friends for tea
Often friends, family and neighbours will appreciate receiving an invitation to come and spend some time with you.
If you'd prefer for someone else to host, Contact the Elderly is a charity that holds regular free Sunday afternoon tea parties for people over the age of 75 who live alone. Phone Contact the Elderly on 0800 716 543.
- Keep in touch by phone
Having a chat with a friend or relative over the phone can be the next best thing to being with them.
Or you can call The Silver Line, a helpline for older people on 0800 4 70 80 90.
You can also call Independent Age on 0800 319 6789, Age UK on 0800 055 6112, or Friends of the Elderly on 0300 332 1110 to receive a weekly or fortnightly friendship call from a volunteer who enjoys talking to older people.
- Learn to love computers
If your friends and family live far away, a good way to stay in touch is by using a personal computer or tablet (a handheld computer).
Age UK offer IT training for older people. For more information contact Age UK Lancashire on 0300 303 1234.
- Get involved in local community activities
These will vary according to where you live, but the chances are you'll have access to a singing or walking group, book clubs, bridge, bingo, quiz nights and faith groups.
- Fill your diary
It can help you feel less lonely if you plan the week ahead and put things in your diary to look forward to each day, such as a walk in the park or going to a local coffee shop, library, sports centre, cinema or museum.
- Help others
There are endless volunteering opportunities out there, and the best way to find out about them is by contacting Lancaster Community and Voluntary Solutions (CVS) on 01524 555900 or visiting http://lancastercvs.org.uk/. Alternatively, if you’re in Cumbria you can contact Cumbria CVS on 01768 800350 or visit https://cumbriacvs.org.uk/.
- Join the University of the Third Age
The University of the Third Age (U3A) operates in many areas, offering older people the chance to learn or do something new.
Run by volunteers, U3A has no exams. Instead, it gives you the chance to do, play or learn something you may never have done before.
U3A is also a great place to meet people and make new friends.