Do you agree that it feels as though Spring is in the air? Daffodils are beginning to bloom and by 6pm it’s still not quite dark! This is a lovely time of year for getting out and about – we explore why getting out is especially important if you are feeling lonely.
Loneliness has been linked to many health problems; research has shown that lacking social connections is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad, 2015)
Here are some more stats on loneliness:
- Over half of all people aged 75 and over live alone (ONS 2010)
- Two-fifths of people say TV is their main companion (Age UK 2014)
- 59% of adults aged 52 and over who have reported poor health say they feel lonely some of the time, compared to 21% who say they are in excellent health (Beaumont 2013)
My Grandfather once said to me he would always be lonely after being widowed – he explained that even when surrounded by friends and family, because he had lost his love he would always feel alone.
This sounds rather ‘hopeless’ but what he went on to say was that despite this, being part of a family, a group and being considered did ease the pain of loneliness.
Loneliness isn’t something that has a ‘quick fix.’ It is part of life for many but there are ways we, the friends and family, can help to ease the pain.
Getting out and about in the fresh air, going for a walk, chatting to neighbours, buying a newspaper and exchanging pleasantries with the shopkeeper – really small things can lift the spirits of a lonely person. Even a small interaction each day can be very helpful.
If you have a loved one or neighbour who lives alone, popping in for a cup of tea and a chat for half an hour from time to time is one of the kindest things you can do. Perhaps suggest a short stroll or just to sit in a sunny spot in the garden. A chance of scenery and fresh air along with some company can break the ‘spell’ of loneliness for a short time.
Exercise releases endorphins that make us feel good. If your loved one is still physically capable (we recommend a chat to your GP before embarking on any new exercise regime) a walk or even some organized exercise classes (age appropriate of course) are a great idea. Many sports centres now offer classes for more mature exercisers. Walking football, aerobics and swimming sessions are all available – contact your local sports centre to see what is near you.
The NHS website has an excellent resource for exercise ideas that can be done in the home, from a chair. Just getting your arms moving and blood flowing can be very beneficial – take a look here
It is also worth mentioning that loneliness doesn’t only affect the elderly. Just this week a report was published after researching the very young age group of those aged 19-32, suggested that social media increases loneliness . New Mums, those recovering from an operation ….just about anyone can feel isolated and lonely at times – let’s all open our eyes and help if we can.
Part of the role of the Q1Care team is to help our clients to get out and about, find local classes and activities that can punctuate their weeks which are often centred at home. We also offer companionship care where we visit clients for a cup of tea and a chat, often when family live too far away to visit regularly. To find out if we can assist your family please get in touch