Firstly, if you feel alone, you are not alone! According to Age UK, 3.6 million older people live alone, of which 2 million are aged over 75. 1.9 million of us feel ignored or invisible.
So, how can we spot loneliness in somebody? There are some clues which can help identify if someone is lonely such as a neglect in someone’s appearance or personal hygiene, not eating properly, a change in normal routine and complaining of feeling worthless.
There can be many reasons why someone is feeling lonely but it’s worth remembering someone can still feel lonely despite being surrounded by friends and family. Age UK offer Befriending Services which may make a difference to people. One of which is called Call In Time where they can match you up with a likeminded person who can call once a week for a chat and a friendship can form. You can find out more and sign up for this service by following this link: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/services/befriending-services/sign-up-for-telephone-befriending/
Age UK also offer a face to face befriending service too which involves a volunteer visiting an older person in their home, perhaps for a cup of tea and a chat, or accompanying them to an activity (such as a trip to a cafe or the theatre). In some cases, a volunteer may accompany the older person to occasional hospital or doctor’s appointments. If you want to find out more or if you’re feeling lonely or need some practical help and support, you can call Age UK on 0800 678 1602 8am until 7pm all year round.
What ever you age, many of us may feel perfectly fine most of the year and then Christmas comes – it can be a difficult time for some of us for many reasons. Firstly, don’t feel pressured to do anything – it’s ok to want to be on your own! You could have a look at what’s taking place in your local community over the Christmas period or ask a friend or family member to help you find out for you. Try and build new friendships – easier said than done, but there are groups out there that can help with this. Have a look at u3a.org.uk it’s a UK-wide movement which brings together people in their ‘third age’ to develop their interests and continue their learning in a friendly and informal environment. See if there are any coffee mornings taking place or any event where likeminded people may attend. Don’t forget, many people will be attending these events for the very same reason! Activities like this would continue far beyond the Christmas period. Of course here at Radio Reminisce we are loneliness aware and we hope our radio programmes can help, whether listening in a group and taking part in some of the suggested activities or listening on your own reminiscing with Ashley Franklin!
Remember sometimes it’s the very simple things we can do as friends and family. Over Christmas, just check in with your relatives – especially if you know they are on their own. Even if it’s a neighbour living alone, go and say Merry Christmas – have a little chat and check they’re ok. It can make all the difference to someone.