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Loneliness and the older person

Lonely old person



Loneliness can and does affect anyone, of any age, but older people are especially vulnerable. However, there are ways to overcome it, even if you live alone and find it hard to get out.



Keep in touch by phone

Call the free Silver Line (a helpline for older people recently set up by Esther Rantzen) on 0800 470 8090; Independent Age on 0845 262 1863 or Age UK on 0800 169 6565 or Friends of the Elderly on 0207 259 0154 to receive a weekly or fortnightly friendship call from a volunteer who enjoys talking to older people.

Independent Age’s Live Wire scheme gives you the chance to join a telephone bookclub whereby every four to six weeks a group of about six people discuss their chosen book (or film) over the phone (they call you, so there is no cost involved).

Community Network brings people together on the phone each week. To join or start a telephone group call 0207 923 5263


Smiley Sun

Smile, even if it feels hard

Grab every chance to smile at others or begin a conversation – for instance with the cashier at the shop or the person next to you in the GP waiting room. If you’re shy or not sure what to say, try asking people about themselves.



Learn to love computers

If you have family that live far away, a good way to keep in touch, especially with grandchildren, is by using a personal computer or tablet (hand held computer). You can share emails, photos and have free video chats using services like Face Time or Skype. You can make new online ‘friends’ or even reconnect with old friends using social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, and website forums.

A tablet computer can be especially useful if you can’t get around very easily as you can sit with it on your knee and the screen is clear and bright. A sponge tip stylus pen or speech recognition may help if the touchscreen is difficult for arthritic hands or fingers with poor circulation.

Libraries and community centres often hold regular training courses for older people to learn basic computer skills – as well as being a good place to meet and spend time with others in their own right. http://www.boroughofpoole.com


Afternoon tea

Contact the Elderly is a charity that holds regular free Sunday afternoon tea parties for people over 75 who live alone. You will be collected from your home and driven to a volunteer host’s home for the afternoon. Apply online or call Contact the Elderly on 02072 400 630. 


Community Dance

Get involved in local community activities

These will vary according to where you live, but the chances are you’ll have access to a singing or walking group, book clubs, bridge, bingo, quiz nights and faith groups. Not to mention local branches of national organisations that hold social events such as the Women’s Institute, Rotary Club and Contact the Elderly. The Silver Line helpline (Freephone 0800 328 8888) can let you know what’s going on in your local area.



Get out and about

Don’t wait for people to come and see you – travel to visit them if you can. One advantage of being older is that public transport is better value. Bus travel is free for over 60s across the UK. And for longer distances, train and coach travel can be cheap too, especially if you book in advance, online and use a senior rail card.

The Royal Voluntary Service can put you in touch with volunteers who provide free transport for older people with mobility issues or who live in rural areas with limited public transport.



Help others

Use your knowledge and experience to give something back to your community. You’ll gain lots in return too, such as new skills, confidence and hopefully new friends. There are endless volunteering opportunities which relish the qualities and skills of older people – such as patience, experience and calmness. Examples are Home-Start or Sure Start, also helping in a local charity shop or hospital.


Cheery old people

Useful resources

Get started as a volunteer

Citizens Advice Bureau

For further info download Mind’s how-to-cope-with-loneliness.pdf booklet.

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