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.
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.
To understand loneliness and the impact it has on older people’s lives, Senior Campaigns Officer Samantha Kennedy has been visiting people supported by local Age UK’s. In this blog she talks about meeting Doris and finding out about social prescribing.
How do we reach people who are lonely? People who are cut off and isolated? One way is through their GPs, they’re often among the few individuals with whom lonely individuals have contact. Earlier this year Citizen’s Advice reported that 64% of GPs see patients with social isolation issues.
Zoe Heller wrote vividly about the terror of loneliness, describing what it is to “wake up and gaze out of the window at another bloody daybreak, and think, I cannot do this anymore. I cannot pull myself together again and spend the next fifteen hours of wakefulness fending off the fact of my own misery…the drip drip of long-haul, no-end-in-sight solitude… [other people] don’t know what it is to construct an entire weekend around a visit to the laundrette.”
Heller’s novel ‘Notes on a Scandal’ came back to me last week when Age UK launched our campaign on loneliness, ‘No One Should have no one’ which highlights the unbearable truth that a million people haven’t spoken to a friend, neighbour or family member for over a month and that for over 4 million older people the television is their main form of company. Continue reading “A lonely future?”
Today, Age UK launches a new campaign asking the Government to take action to tackle loneliness. Senior Campaigns Officer, Samantha Kennedy, explains why loneliness is a health problem for older people and how you can support the campaign.