Five ways to combat loneliness in older people

24/10/2017

As we approach the winter months, it can be a difficult time for older people who are vulnerable to loneliness and isolation. With colder weather and longer nights, it can be harder to engage in social activities during this period, meaning many older people spend a lot of time on their own. 

Five ways to combat loneliness in older people

What can we do to combat loneliness in older people?

To help alleviate the feelings of loneliness in older people that are often so prevalent during this time of year, we’re launching our new ‘Feel The Warmth’ campaign, which aims to bring warmth to older people across the country through small acts of kindness.

These small acts of kindness could be a range of different things, but to give you some inspiration we’ve put together this list of five different ways you can help combat loneliness in older people this winter.

1. Phone an older person

Sometimes a quick chat with a friendly person is all you need to feel less lonely. Picking up the phone and calling an older neighbour or loved one is a great way to keep in touch and make sure they’ve got someone to talk with.

Age UK offers a free weekly telephone befriending service, which matches volunteers with like-minded older people who are looking for someone to talk with. For people who are busy, this is a great way to help alleviate loneliness in older people and only takes up half an hour of your time a week!

People over the age of 55 could also call The Silver Line, which is a free and confidential helpline for older people across the UK. They can offer support, advice and friendship phone calls to anyone who needs the companionship.

2. Offer to go shopping

For older people who are less mobile, driving a car or taking public transport may not be an option for getting around. Offering to drive your neighbour or loved one to the supermarket to pick up some food is a great way to both alleviate loneliness and help out with something they may struggle with independently!

3. Recommend a local community group or club

Did you know that according to research carried out for the DWP, nearly a quarter of older people do not go out socially at least once a month? Encouraging your neighbour or loved one to join a local community group or club for something they’re interested in could be a great way for them to get out the house, socialise and maybe even try something new.

Some friendship centres for older people are run all across the country by local Age UK branches to bring like-minded people over the age of 55 together and are an excellent way for older people to make new friends.

Similarly, the Royal Voluntary Service has a range of social centres and community clubs for older people, running different activities such as dancing, bingo and crafts. As well, Contact The Elderly hold Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people across the UK. Find a tea party near you.

4. Help an older person get online

Despite internet usage among people in later life increasing over the last few years, digital inclusion stats show there are still 3.8 million people over the age of 65 who have never used the internet! Why not help an older person to get on social media and Skype? 

A study in 2014 also found that training an older person to use social media improves cognitive capacity and could be beneficial to their overall mental health. 

5. Pop over for a cup of tea

Did you know we drink 165 million cups of tea in the UK?! Why not make one more and go over to your neighbour or loved ones house with a bit of cake and offer to put the kettle on!

With roughly 200,000 older people in our community not speaking to friends or family in a month, taking a moment out of your day to pop over and have a chat with a cup of tea could really make their day!

Hopefully, these ideas can help you support an older person combat loneliness. Tweet us @TheAbbeyfield with #FeelTheWarmth and let us know how you’ve helped an older person combat loneliness! 

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