Monday 17th to Friday 21st June 2019 is Loneliness Awareness Week, an inclusive campaign by Marmalade Trust to raise awareness of loneliness in the UK and, most importantly, to open a conversation about it.
This year, the focus is on reducing the stigma of loneliness – it is something that is likely to affect us all at some point in our lives, and therefore we need to talk about it and ask for help if we need it. And there’s a lot of work to be done – according to a government survey in 2017, the UK is the loneliest country in Europe.
At Unique Senior Care, we wholeheartedly support this amazing awareness event, especially as older people tend to be more vulnerable to loneliness – often caused by narrowing social groups due to retirement, mobility issues, and, sadly, the passing away of close friends, neighbours and even spouses.
A widespread issue
Loneliness can lead to a serious decline in overall health and wellbeing; it can cause severe depression and anxiety and even a deterioration in physical health. And this is a widespread problem:
- 6 million older people in the UK live alone, of whom more than two million are over the age of 75 (Age UK).
- More than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member, and nearly half of people over the age of 65 say that television or pets are their main form of company (Age UK).
- Three out of four GPs say they see between 1 and 5 people a day who have come in mainly because they are lonely (Marmalade Trust).
- Older people are more vulnerable to mental health problems, with depression affecting around 22% of men and 28% of women aged 65 years and over (Mental Health Foundation).
How you can help
Our brains thrive on social interaction – having a strong network of family, friends and colleagues makes us feel supported and valued. This is the case for all ages of people, but becomes more apparent as our social groups shrink as we get older. Not to mention the fact that elderly people are often too proud to ask for help, and over time they therefore find it difficult to reconnect with people – another reason why we need to beat the stigma!
It is important to help raise awareness of loneliness and keep an eye out for friends and family members who may be lonely. We’ve written previous blog posts on helping elderly relatives feel part of important celebrations such as Christmas, and also helping them get out and about in the warmer weather.
And don’t forget to look out for your elderly neighbours – older people can be creatures of habit, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for changes in their behaviour or habits. And why not hold a games night or a tea and cake date with your older neighbours? This could instantly brighten up their day and make them feel less lonely and vulnerable.
If you are worried about an elderly relative being lonely, and can’t see them as often as you’d like due to location or work commitments, then Companionship Care might be worth a look. Here at Unique Senior Care, Companionship Care is a key part of our service offering. People often associate at-home care with physical help – such as day-to-day tasks, showering or dressing, but the truth is that many of our clients are simply looking for company and friendship.
Companion carers are there to develop a friendship with whomever they are caring for. They are there to talk to, have lunch with, or play a board game with. The value of being able to have a chat with someone – be it about the weather, books, or reminiscing about the past – should never be underestimated.
Our Companionship services include:
- Companionship and conversation
- Assistance with appointments
- Making travel arrangements
- Help with reading
- Participating in hobbies and crafts
- Monitoring diet and eating
- Accompanying to lunch or dinner
- Attending plays, concerts or clubs.
Find out more