Coping with loneliness

How to help the elderly with Loneliness

Knowing how to reduce social isolation in the elderly starts with yourself. If you’ve been feeling lonely for a while, it might feel daunting to go out and meet new people. You might worry that others won’t understand you or want to spend time with you. If your confidence is low, addressing how you’re feeling and reaching out to others can help. Loneliness in elderly people is unfortunately quite common, but you are not alone, and there are many programs, support groups, and things you can do.

 

Talk about it

If you’re going through a difficult time and need some emotional support, you might find it useful to talk about what you’re feeling. If you have people close to you, try reaching out to them. However, if you’d rather talk to someone who isn’t close to you, there are organisations that can help:

  • Cruse Bereavement Care can support you after the death of someone close.
  • If you are experiencing difficulties in your relationships, you could contact Relate for help.
  • Samaritans provide free, confidential emotional support. You don’t have to be depressed or suicidal to call them – they will talk about anything that’s worrying you.
  • The Silver Line is a helpline providing emotional support and advice to older people.
  • You could ask for a short course of counselling through the NHS - you could refer yourself or ask your GP to refer you.

 

Volunteer visits or calls

One of the leading causes of social isolation in the elderly is not having basic, everyday communication with other people. You may just want some company or a chat on the phone with someone. Luckily, there are many organisations that offer befriending schemes, including Independent Age.

Other organisations that offer befriending services include: 

Or, for more ideas on how to boost your social connections, see Staying Socially Connected.

 

Partners and loneliness

For some people, the loss or lack of a partner can be the hardest thing to cope with. You may have people around you but miss having one person to share your life with. This can be very difficult, and you might feel you want to put all your energy into meeting someone new, but learning to spend time alone as well as building other supportive relationships can help you to feel less lonely too whether or not you’re looking for a partner.

If you do feel ready to start a new relationship or friendship, there are many ways to meet people. Joining a group can be a good way to spend time with others and get to know them at a pace that suits you. Some people also try online dating – an increasingly popular way for people of all ages to meet new partners. 

 

Learn to be alone

This may feel like the opposite of what you should be doing, but being on your own is different from being lonely. Learning to enjoy your own company can help you to feel less alone  even when you don’t have others around you.

Try using your alone time to learn a new skill or indulge in an interest your friends don’t share. Many people find it helpful to practise mindfulness which involves focusing your mind on the present moment, e.g. focusing on your breathing. Mind has more information.

 

Get a pet

If you want more company at home, you could also consider getting a pet. Many people find them very comforting, and having a dog that needs walking would also give you a reason to get out and keep active. If you don’t think you would be able to keep a dog at home full time, you can sign up to look after or walk one for someone else through organisations like The Cinnamon Trust or Borrow My Doggy.

 

How to help a loved one with loneliness

If you have an elderly loved one that you are worried about being lonely, there are many things you can do to help. Something as simple as phoning them a few times a week or popping round to see them can make a world of difference. Decreasing isolation in older adults can easily happen through basic, consistent communication to make them feel thought of and not forgotten.

 

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