As the nights draw in and the weather worsens, the minds of older people can sometimes turn to the subject of loneliness. Most of us will feel lonely at some point in our lives, it can affect anybody from any kind of background. For many of us, particularly those in later life, loneliness can define our lives and have a significant detrimental impact on our wellbeing and our mental and physical health. Loneliness is associated with depression, sleep issues, impaired cognitive health, heightened vascular resistance, hypertension, psychological stress and mental health problems.
There are many things that can be done to feel less alone. As a carer for an older or vulnerable person, these are important to bear in mind too. Technology can be a good way of connecting with the older generation through video calls. Some IT training may be needed which can be arranged using local resources such as ECL Day Services, or perhaps a computer-literate family member. ECL Day Services will also act as a great social hub to try new activities and engage with people and make friends. Charities such as Age UK also offer befriending services for phone calls and social contact. Increasing hobbies and social activities such as lunch clubs will help to stave off loneliness, especially in older people. This may also have a positive effect on preventing dementia.