This blog was contributed by Vinal K Karania, Research Manager at Age UK, and looks at what works in tackling loneliness.
We all feel lonely at times and for many it is nothing more than a passing emotion. For some this feeling can become entrenched, and negatively impact upon their quality of life. This can be overcome with appropriate support, but what is the right support? The What Works Centre for Wellbeing recently made a call for evidence to build a picture of what works in reducing loneliness in people at all stages of life and will report its findings later in the year.
Do we know more about what works than we realise? In short, the answer is yes:
People in poor health are 1.9 times more likely to report feeling lonely than those in good health
People who are widow(er)s are 3.6 times more likely to be lonely than those who are married.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently published a report on the characteristics linked with feeling lonely, which found that while people of all ages can be lonely, there are some groups particularly at risk – and there is a strong association with poor health and being widowed.
During Men’s Health Awareness Week we discuss some of the pertinent health issues affecting older men, and look at the advice and support available.
We live in an age where mental health problems touch all our lives. Our research shows that over half of people over the age of 60 report feeling unhappy or depressed at any one time with older men’s mental wellbeing most at risk. Continue reading “Making a difference to Men’s health”
In an almost unbearably sad piece about the death of her husband, the journalist Decca Aitkenhead wrote that ‘loneliness, I have learnt, is not an absence of company. It is an absence of meaning.’
Age UK estimates that more than 1.2 million older people are lonely and that chronic loneliness is affecting a growing number of older people as the population ages. There are particular issues that mean older people are at risk from loneliness – such as bereavement, ill health and complex long term health conditions. Loneliness is an issue that we think deserves more focus and we highlight it in our manifesto for the 2017 General Election. We believe the new Government must take the lead in developing a national strategy to identify, prevent and tackle loneliness, especially but not exclusively among older people. Continue reading “A life worth living”
Marjorie Barker blogs about “overwhelming” loneliness she felt in later life, what she did to combat it and the importance of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.
When you’re alone, you feel that you can’t achieve anything. This is why the work of Age UK and the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness is so important.
Nobody anticipates loneliness, it just happens. For me it came a decade ago, when my husband Alan developed vascular dementia and I became his carer. Not only did the man I had shared so much with no longer recognise me, but I also lost contact with everything and everyone I had known before. I couldn’t go out, as Alan could not be left alone.
Meaningful conversation was no longer possible with my husband, and for seven years my main form of human interaction came at Alan’s appointments at the memory clinic.
Jo Cox was a doer. She became an MP to change things. She was driven by compassion and a clear sense of right and wrong which led her to get involved in a number of issues in parliament and beyond which sat above party politics: from the plight of civilians caught up in the Syrian conflict to the lonely lives of some of her constituents in Batley and Spen in Yorkshire. Continue reading “Guest blog: Combating loneliness together”
The brilliant children’s story writer Judith Kerr, now in her 90’s, has commented that the problem with being widowed is ‘not that there’s nobody to do things with, it’s that there’s nobody to do nothing with. You have to make some plan for the day otherwise there’s this shapeless emptiness.’ Her words, as usual, are precise and cut straight to the heart of the issue (as well as appealing straight to the heart) and also apply to loneliness more broadly.
Having ‘nobody to do nothing with’ affects more of us than we ever knew. So many of us are lonely in fact that it doesn’t feel an exaggeration to call it a crisis. Age UK research has found that half a million people over the age of 60 usually spend every day alone, with nearly half a million more often going at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all. Continue reading “Combating loneliness together”