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The importance of friendships in later life

25th April 2017

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

Though the digital age should be helping people connect more, it is instead finding a majority of an entire generation feeling isolated and depressed. However a recent poll by Gransnet, a social media site for over 50’s, found that 7 out of 10 people (with an average age of 63) are lonely and their close family and friends would be surprised to discover that.

Gransnet is not the only organisation looking to increase awareness of loneliness in the older generation. However in an ageing population, the number of older people who feel isolated is expected to continue to grow.

Those who are most at risk of feeling isolated are those who struggle with mobility issues and need specialised facilities such as home stair lifts or mobility scooters. Limitations on public transport can reduce their access to areas beyond their home and make it difficult to see friends and family. 

While Labour MP Rachel Reeves and Conservative MP Semma Kennedy feel like loneliness should be less of a taboo subject, according to The Guardian, the pair said: “We all need to act and encourage older people to freely talk about their loneliness. Everyone can play a part in ending loneliness among older people in their communities by simply starting a conversation with those around you.

“How we care and act for those around us could mean the difference between an older person just coping, to them loving and enjoying later life.”

While this may encourage acquaintances, it can lead to meaningful and positive friendships that provide not only support but also community to those who would otherwise be on the fringes. They also inspire older citizens to remain active in an effort to visit friends, but family should reassure these bonds early on.

By facilitating a loved one’s trips into the community, coaxing and boosting social interactions, those that would be isolated become more confident and independent to a greater age.