Combating loneliness in the elderly

Anyone can experience loneliness; However, the elderly are particularly vulnerable to feelings of isolation and loneliness. This feeling can also have a huge impact on the health of older people. Many older people find it difficult to get out and about but it’s not all doom and gloom, because there are ways to tackle this social problem.

Figures released by Age UK showed that more than 2 million people aged over 75 are living alone and more than one million people can go for a month or more without speaking to anyone. There are many reasons for this type of isolation. An older person may feel too weak to go out, retirement may have left them with a feeling of lack of interest, they may have a spouse or partner who has died or disability or illness has knocked their confidence or physical ability.

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This level of isolation can lead to depression, along with the very real decline in physical and mental wellbeing. It can be difficult to reach someone and admit loneliness. Pride can make us feel embarrassed and feel like there is a stigma attached to being on our own. Dementia signs are also more difficult to pick up.

So, what can be done to remedy this situation?

Independent or assisted housing complexes and even home care can offer more of a community feel and allows older people to have more contact with others. For more information on Live in Carers, visit a site like

Silver Line is a helpline set up for the elderly who live alone where volunteers are available for a simple chat. Age UK and Friends of the Elderly can also arrange for a phone call every week or every two weeks of friendly volunteers to chat and make sure everything is ok.

If family is not local, a computer may be able to help you to keep in touch. Many people find sharing email and video calls with friends and family can help to reconnect. Maybe you can find old friends on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Should a keyboard or a touch screen proves uncomfortable, speech recognition tools are able to help in communication.

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Local community centres are often a major source of events, meetings and activities such as book clubs, quiz nights or bridge club, for example. There are also regional and national organizations to consider that may be operating in your area, such as the Womens Institute, for example.

One of the benefits of getting older is that public transportation is cheaper, and often free of charge locally. Do not wait for people to come to you, but get out and travel to see them. For anyone with mobility issues or those in remote areas, The Royal Voluntary Service is able to put people in touch with volunteers to provide free transportation.