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How to beat loneliness

12th November 2014

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Loneliness is one of the most concerning aspects of growing old. It can come about in a number of situations, such as when their partner passes, their children leave the area or they just find themselves on their own. Whatever the situation, facing living independently without regular human contact can be the most daunting prospect of ageing.

While mobility aids such as straight stair lifts and non-slip walk in baths can make living alone safer, they can’t offer the support and interaction that a companion can.

Here we have three proactive solutions that aim to effectively beat loneliness – for good!

  1. Find a companion

Care homes are not the only option for finding companionship in old age, there are in fact many solutions to beating loneliness with the help of a companion without having to leave your own home.

They don’t call them man’s best friend for nothing; dogs, and pets in general, can be fantastic companions in old age. Dogs need lots of walking so can keep you fit, whereas cats are more independent so are better for those who would find lots of walking difficult. An article from the Guardian even found chickens to be a fantastic companion for the older generation!

Pets are even proven to reduce stress, blood pressure and even mental wellbeing as a pet can give a sense of purpose and structure to the day, as shown in this article.

Take our flowchart below to find out which pet would suit you best.

While pets may be a great live-in companion in your own home, they may not exactly match your health needs. While there is often a pet to suit most people and their living situations, as shown in the above chart, pets aren’t the answer for everyone.

  1. Pick up the phone

The Silver Line, is a great option for those who aren’t so keen on introducing a furry friend to their home. This fantastic organisation offers a confidential, free helpline to older people in the UK, where they can speak with their specially trained helpline staff and offer information, friendship and advice.

Open every day and night of the year, The Silver Line helps countless older people across the UK and works to change the statistic that 1 in 10 older people suffer intense loneliness. Their survey in 2013 found that 9 out of 10 older people said that ‘a chat on the phone’ is the most helpful solution to beat loneliness, while one in four said that they either never or hardly ever have someone to talk to. This helpline looks to put a stop to this and offers older people a friendly voice they can speak with about their worries, concerns or just about their day.

  1. Go outside

If you prefer face-to-face contact then community groups and activities can offer a real solution to loneliness. The Campaign to End Loneliness offers a great selection of resources for older people who are feeling lonely, and even links to mental health charity Mind for those experiencing signs of depression.

The older people’s charity Age UK has a great selection of older people’s groups, where visitors can choose from groups for friendship, hobbies and even politics and issues affecting older people like yourself.

So whether it is the companionship of a pet, being able to speak to someone on the phone or getting out of the house and meeting new people, there is a way of beating loneliness to suit everyone. Improve both your physical and mental wellbeing with the addition of mobility aids and companionship to help beat loneliness and improve independence.

Image Credit: Cristian Iohan ?tef?nescu, Wendy Cope, protographer23, Eliot Phillips (flickr.com)

This content was written by Emily Bray. Please feel free to visit my Google + profile to read more stories.