Loneliness in old age
According to Age UK, 3.6 million older people in the UK live alone, of whom over almost half are over the age of 75. As we grow older we are more likely to lose loved ones, experience health problems and lack of mobility, making it harder to get out and about. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation – even depression. Age UK goes on to state that loneliness itself can be as harmful to our health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day.
But it’s not just ill health that can put elderly people at risk of loneliness and depression – there are other factors at play too, which you may recognise yourself, including:
Bereavement or lack of companionship: chronic loneliness can set in after the loss of a partner. You may experience feelings of loneliness – even guilt – if your partner has moved into a care home leaving you alone at home.
Retirement: you may have looked forward to retirement, but the reality is that you miss day-to-day contact with work colleagues – it’s very different being on your own seven days a week, rather than just at weekends.
Socialisation has ceased: you may have reached a stage in life where friends have passed away, no longer live in the same area or have health issues or restricted mobility that stops them from leaving the house.
Location: modern life means that families are often more ‘geographically scattered’. In particular, elderly people living in rural areas sometimes feel cut off from friends, families, shops, and other services. Public transport might be limited or you may be no longer able to drive for health reasons.
Financial difficulties: in addition to causing stress, financial problems can also limit travel and opportunities for socialising.
At Birchwood, we understand that a sunny, soothing disposition is an important attribute in all our carers when visiting clients who might otherwise go from day to day without any social interaction or companionship.
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