Avoiding isolation in the elderly years

August 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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lonely ladyI read about the health of elderly people frequently and always come across the same problem, isolation. That terrible feeling of loneliness, abandonment and seclusion which rarely seems to fade.

The problem is becoming increasingly highlighted with the quality of social care been constantly questioned. The simple fact is that isolation needs addressing as the effects of little social interaction with vulnerable and elderly people are shocking.

This was made clear when Friends of the Elderly recently carried out a week long experiment ‘Isolation Week’. Working with a group of socially active ‘young’ people (ranging from 20’s to 50’s) each participant was to live alone without any contact from friends or family. Instead television became their companion, with the occasional allowance of using the internet, however not for social networking purposes- Changing their lifestyle for that of an elderly isolated person.

I was astonished with how quickly living in isolation started to change the mind set of those involved. Depression became the most prominent problem as many quickly became miserable and unable to perk themselves up, which sounds far too familiar.

Rather than glumly look at the negatives, which of course needed addressing. I’ve started to keep a keen eye on ways that elderly people can avoid living in isolation.

old ladies

A previous blog included the fantastic services of Southwark Circle, a social care organisation operating in London. The scheme is brilliant and work on socially improving the lives of elderly people in the community. I think that this style of social care is extremely refreshing and one which could see success elsewhere.

I recently read about a singing group in south Wales cheekily titled the ‘Golden Oldies’, who offer their services to elderly people who get joy from singing great pop music. The group holds weekly sessions which get people together for a good sing song and has a simple aim of giving elderly people something to look forward too.

The weekly session system seems a good route for the elderly to go down. Whether that is a singing group, a knitting group or light exercise class for the elderly (there are plenty out there- search online with your local council). As these sessions are great places go and make friends as well as providing a little routine to day to day life.

golden olides

Of course, recent news that many local authorities will soon be cutting funds to bus routes, which are used predominantly by the elderly, will have a big impact. Such news is devastating and frustrating. However, getting online could be the answer. If you can’t get to your friends why not Skype them or become friends on Facebook. Send each other Tweets about what you’re currently reading or when you’re next going to play bowls. Online options are endless and with so much help available it really is a realistic away to avoid feeling isolated.

Of course nothing compares to living in a family home with loved ones but these options can help make life much happier and ease loneliness whilst getting older.

2 Comments »

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  1. I really enjoyed reading this blog and am pleased you are working to find positive examples of projects and steps individuals can take to reduce loneliness in older age.

    As you highlighted in your blog, loneliness is an issue that should not be ignored – in 2006 a survey found 12% of older people said they felt “trapped” in their own home, and another study estimated around 5 million older people would say their television is their main form of company.

    However there is a lot of positive and proactive work happening across the UK – as your examples illustrate. I don’t know if you have heard of the Campaign to End Loneliness, but can I suggest you to take a look at our website? (www.campaigntoendloneliness.org.uk)

    We are a project which aims (amongst other things) to create connections in older age, raise awareness about the problems caused by loneliness and identify what we can all do to future-proof our lives against it.

    The four founder partners include Independent Age, Counsel and Care, WRVS and Age UK Oxfordshire but we are working with a wide group of charities, social care organisations and individuals.

    I hope you will be interested in what we are doing, and if you would like to get involved/stay updated please do sign-up: http://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org.uk/submit-pledge/

    I hope we might hear from you soon!

    • We are really interested in looking into your campaign and learning more about how you tackle loneliness- a huge issue amongst the elderly I’m sure you’ll agree.
      The website looks fantastic… just about to have a good read through it now.

      Thanks. 🙂


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