Let's fix Loneliness
Friday 20th July 2018 | Roberta Micallef
Diminishing loneliness within the elderly community is a priority. In recent years, loneliness has been recognised as a serious issue with detrimental effects.
An estimate of 10-13% of older people suffer from acute loneliness. In the UK alone, 3.1 million older people live alone, of those, 2 million are over 75 and of those, 1.9 million experience some form of loneliness. There are clear links between isolation and loneliness. Isolation makes it 2 to 5 times more likely for elderly people to die prematurely.
A study by Brigham Young University, in Utah, USA, stated that loneliness can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Besides the physical and mental effects, loneliness can increase pressure on local councils and health services too. Many great initiatives have been implemented to reduce the number of people experiencing loneliness. Simple companionship for example, has a monumental effect on this epidemic.
Below are a few organisations and initiatives you can volunteer with to help replace loneliness with companionship:
Volunteers with the Casserole Club share extra portions of their home-cooked meals with the elderly in their area who aren't always capable of cooking for themselves. Volunteers share food anytime they feel like they have extra and are happy to share some company too. On the website you can find many success stories of friendships and companionship.
Contact the Elderly
Supported by a network of volunteers, the charity organises monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of people, aged 75 and over, who live alone. Offering a regular and vital friendship link every month. The elderly are collected from their home by a volunteer driver and taken to a volunteer host’s home for the afternoon. The group is warmly welcomed by a different host each month, but the drivers remain the same which means that over the months and years, strangers turn into friends.
Volunteers can engage in a regular phone calls with an elderly person, this is a mood booster and helps people feel more connected. Volunteets can also meet and chat with them over a cup of tea. Over time they build relationships that make the older people feel less isolated and more socially connected.