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I think we have all felt lonely at one time or another. Perhaps it is physically lonely. A husband or wife has gone away for the weekend, kids have flown the nest. How about mentally lonely? We are worried, anxious or stressed and feel we have no one to talk to.

If we are in a relationship, of sound health and out working, chances are this loneliness is fleeting. We are reunited with our loved ones, children come home for university holidays and the problems we have are solved but for those suffering true isolation and who are lonely for a protracted period of time, the impact can be quite profound.

Researchers rate loneliness as a higher health risk than lifelong smoking or obesity.

With it being commonplace for families to be widely dispersed people become isolated very quickly, a bereavement of a loved one or recovery from an illness, for example, can bring an immediate flurry of visitors and activity but in the later weeks and months isolation can set in.

So how do we tackle loneliness? I believe we can all do our part, interacting with older people who are living close by and it does not need to be a grand gesture, even the smallest of efforts can go a long way. Checking in on a neighbour, popping a card through their door, or having a chat with an older person at the shops only takes a moment and can make a real difference.

For some families, being present isnÕt an everyday option and that is where companionship care comes in. A friendly face who visits once, twice, perhaps three times a week and chats, helps around the home, takes a trip to the shops and investigates local community based meetings and clubs that may help. Our carers step in to the shoes of family members who live far away and take the loneliness out of everyday life.

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We would love to hear your thoughts over on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/q1care)