For many, feelings of loneliness can be worse at this time of year, with the bad weather and short days. For older people this can all be made harder by the loss of a loved one, missing the social contact of work after retirement or health problems that make it difficult to get out and about.
Over half of older people say that the TV or their pet is their main form of company, according to Age UK. Loneliness is associated with depression, sleep problems, impaired cognitive health, hypertension, psychological stress and may be linked to dementia. If you are feeling lonely at the moment, here are a few things which might help.
Join a local group
There are lots of activities happening in local communities, such as coffee mornings, community choirs, walking groups or art clubs.
Well Aware has a comprehensive list – you can look at the calendar of activities or search by keyword at www.wellaware.org.uk.
Rekindle an old hobby
If you had a much-loved hobby that fell by the wayside, now could be the time to revisit it. Or you could even try something completely new!
This is a great way to stay active and meet new people – and share your experience and skills with a local charity. Find volunteering opportunities at www.do-it.org.
Learn something new
Keeping the mind active in older life is as important to health as keeping physically active. The University of the Third Age (U3A) runs informal activity sessions, covering hundreds of different subjects: www.u3a.org.uk / 0117 963 1032.
Get support from Community Navigators Bristol
This service offers free support and signposting to help people over 50 feel less isolated and get more involved in their community. And if you’re feeling nervous about trying something new, your navigator can even come along with you the first time to offer that extra support: www.communitynavigators.org.uk / 0117 951 5751 (north Bristol) / 0117 440 9100 (central, east or south).
Calling all volunteers!
Can you help local people who are feeling isolated? Befriending services involve volunteers visiting people in their homes or phoning regularly for a chat. This contact can give people a sense of belonging and help them feel more confident, less alone and reduce depression (Age UK).
For more info about local befriending services you could get involved with, contact: