Feelings of loneliness can afflict people at any age, but an increasing amount of elderly people are experiencing "chronic loneliness", struggling to cope with long periods of isolation, lack of mental stimulation, or attention from busy loved ones, family or carers.
Loneliness can impact people's physical health and mental health, exacerbating and accelerating the decline of diabetes, dementia, heart disease and even some cancers, doctors warn.
Almost a million older people are suffering from feelings of sadness due to their increasingly isolated lives, but there are some simple things that can be done to curtail these feelings.
Independent Age, works to support people stay happy, healthy and connected in their old age, and offers a number of tips for people to help them combat loneliness. Here are some of their recommendations:
- Think about how you used to enjoy yourself - try and enjoy these activities in a new way
- Take the initiative and invite people to visit - sometimes all people need is a call
- Look after your health - try and eat well and do some gentle exercise
- Plan ahead - plan one thing a day to help keep you busy and have something to look forward to
- Check out activities in your local community - find out what is going on, and try one thing that appeals to you at a time to build up your confidence
- Share your time and skills with others - volunteering on your street and neighbourhood and supporting other older people is a great way of meeting people
There are a number of organisations working to help older people age actively and stay social. They can put you in contact with people in your area experiencing the same issues.
- Age UK: Call 0800 169 6565 to find out your local branch
- Friends of the Elderly: Call 020 7833 2181 to find out what services you could benefit from
- Contact the Elderly: Call 020 7240 0630 to find out what social events are on in your area