Loneliness is an ever-increasing problem, regularly raised by charities like the Campaign to End Loneliness. The NHS has talked extensively about the impact it has on health and wellbeing, and the fact that loneliness can affect anyone of any age.
Link-ages aims to help older adults to alleviate some of the symptoms of isolation by enabling them to connect with friends and families, and in this article we discuss some other ways to help.
Inviting friends to visit is a great way to avoid feeling lonely. Your friends will appreciate being invited to visit and they may even be feeling lonely themselves. By inviting them to visit you could be helping them just as much as they are helping you. Family members might also be delighted to receive a special invitation.
You can make as much or as little of the visit as you want to. For some people a quiet coffee/tea and cake will be all they need, while others may prefer to organise lunch or dinner. Both options will be equally as rewarding as you will all benefit from each other’s company and great conversation.
If you would like to socialise outside of the home, why not consider attending an event hosted by Contact The Elderly. Contact The Elderly host free Sunday afternoon tea parties for people who are over the age of 75. If you decide to attend a tea party you will be collected by a volunteer, taken to the tea party and given a lift back to your home. To attend a tea party visit their Tea Parties With Friends page or call 0800 716 543.
Meeting new people will provide you with further opportunities to increase the amount of social contact that you have and the opportunity to make new connections. While your family and friends are great to spend time with, meeting new people can help you to expand your friendship circle so you have even more people to spend time with.
Classes and groups are often a good way to meet people with similar interests and shared hobbies. Age UK run a number of different groups and classes for older people including exercise classes to help you to keep fit with activities such as Dance, Pilates, Seated Exercise, Tai Chi, Walking Clubs and Zumba. You can find out more about the classes available in your area on their website. If you find a class that interests you, why not give it a try? The classes are supportive and inclusive. If you do not exercise regularly then do not worry as you can complete the exercises at a pace that is comfortable for you.
As well as their exercises classes, Age UK also host a wide range of social events and clubs for older people. The events and clubs vary depending on your local Age UK branch but they include everything from bridge groups and coffee mornings to photography and quizzes. To find out more about the events and clubs in your area you can visit the social activities page on their website.
For those who wish to meet new people and help others at the same time, volunteering could be worth considering. Volunteering can have a very positive impact on your wellbeing while providing you with an opportunity to share your knowledge and experience and give back to your community.
Volunteers are rewarded with new skills, confidence and new friends. Older people are highly sought after for their skills and qualities and in many cases can engage in skill swaps with younger generations. Imagine teaching a young person some knitting or baking while learning more about using the Internet from a young person. Volunteering opportunities are available with organisations such as Citizens Advice and Home Start, an organisation that provides support and friendship for families.
In order to feel less lonely it helps if you try to plan ahead and add events to your diary. This will also add more structure to each day and week while also giving you things to look forward to. Activities including a trip to the shops, visit to a café with a friend or a museum visit could all be suitable events to record in your diary. You can also schedule those planned visits from your family and friends as well as any regular classes or volunteering sessions that you attend.
Whether you choose to use a paper diary or a digital diary, it will soon become a key tool for planning and managing your life. Link-ages includes an easy-to-use digital diary as part of the Hub app, which allows you to record events and set reminders for important tasks that you need to complete on a regular basis.
Computers and the Internet offer a world of possibilities for people who are feeling lonely. They offer a practical way to stay in touch with your friends and family whether they live locally or thousands of miles away. The Internet can be a platform for inclusivity and it is something that all generations should be able to access – it bridges the gap between generations and helps you to stay connected to family and friends of all ages. Organisations such as Digital Champions and AbilityNet can offer help and support for people of all ages who wish to learn digital skills.
Our group of apps, Link-ages, is very much designed with tackling loneliness in mind. We recognise that families and friends are not always able to see each other in person on a frequent basis due to distance and other commitments, so we designed and built a group of apps that are capable of helping your family and friends communicate within a secure, safe and private Hub.
From our Hub app, which you can download on an iPad or Android tablet, you can use video calling, picture sharing and messaging to stay in touch and share your memories. Our apps are not just able to help you with communicating and sharing with our digital diary: You can also plan how you are going to make new memories by planning your week and organising events with your friends and family.
Your friends and family will be able to link to your Hub by downloading our Go app and connecting to your Hub by answering a few short questions to confirm that they are authorised to connect to your Hub. Alternatively, if they have already downloaded the Go app you can invite them to join your Hub.
The latest version of our apps, Link-ages 2.0, will be available early this year and it includes all the exciting features that we have explained plus more. You can find out more about us and our apps on the Link-ages website.