Social isolation can occur for lots of different reasons. It can happen due to getting older, be borne out of leaving the workplace, or can happen following the death of friends or partners. It can also happen due to illness or disability. Last week marked loneliness awareness week in the UK, and according to recent studies, the number of over 50s experiencing loneliness in the UK is set to reach two million by the year 2026. We can all probably admit to having felt lonely from time to time, but prolonged loneliness can have a seriously negative effect on us. In fact, the long term effects of loneliness aren’t just limited to mental health. Research suggests that it can also have a significant impact on our physical health too.
Being alone isn’t the same as being lonely. But, when you don’t live with anyone else, dealing with loneliness can feel extra difficult. If older people in particular are feeling lonely, it can be hard to reach out. But in actual fact there are lots of ways for older people to connect with others and feel happy, useful and appreciated again. We’ve put together our best tips for helping to beat loneliness.
1. Fill your diary
Long periods of isolation can add to our feelings of loneliness, so make sure you’re reaching out to those around you to make some plans from time to time. Whether it’s meeting the family once a week, or inviting a friend or neighbour round for a catch up over a cup of tea, the little things all add up. Having something to look forward to can be a real mood booster, and can make the week feel like it’s going by a little faster.
2. Get out and about
Don’t wait for others to come to you – make an active effort to get out and about.
Start by visiting new places. From National Park visits and beach walks, to free indoor activities like galleries and museums, there’s plenty to do in the UK that will keep your mind busy and help you meet others with similar interests.
3. Spend quality time with a pet!
If you’re an animal lover but don’t have the means to have your own pet, did you know you can spend time with one through a dog-borrowing scheme? Websites like Borrow my Doggy put you in touch with local dog owners who are looking for someone to walk their dog and keep their pets company. Borrowing a dog is a great excuse to get out and about for some exercise in your local park, and it’s a great way to meet other dog owners. Plus, it’s pretty difficult to feel lonely with a furry friend by your side!
4. Get into a new hobby
Making time for a new hobby doesn’t always have to involve learning something new. Think about things you enjoy doing regularly like reading and gardening for example. If you’re a book lover then joining a local book club can be the perfect way to turn your hobby into something sociable. Equally, getting green-fingered in the garden is a great way to keep both your mind and body busy. Get your friends or family involved by making it a group activity – build a pond, plant some seeds together, or even simply spruce up your yard or garden with garden accessories and foliage. Growing things from scratch is a labour of love, and something you can be really proud of. From planting your favourite flowers, to growing fresh herbs and veg – why not turn what’s usually a chore into an activity you love?
If you know someone who’s living alone and would benefit from the peace of mind a stairlift brings, get in touch with our friendly team of experts at Halton Stairlifts. Call 0800 644 7766 to find out more about our full range of curved and straight stairlifts, or to arrange your free home assessment today.