The National Careline Blog

Being alone is not the same as being lonely

09 February 2021

As we grow older and it gets harder to get around, it is all too easy for older people to decide to stay in for extended periods, a decision which can lead over time to them becoming socially excluded. Simple things like lifts that are regularly out of action, lack of public toilets, or too few seats around are barriers which, can turn something that was previously enjoyed, into a very stressful experience.

Giving some thought to how to ensure that facilities are accessible to people of all ages is so important for both physical and mental health.  Especially in these times of COVID – 19 and periods of lockdown. Easy access to public spaces and amenities will give people a good reason to take regular exercise and to actively participate in initiatives in their local community.

This may be volunteering at the local food bank or other activity that, (COVID restrictions respecting), brings people closer together. So many people live alone but have friends and neighbours and make a point of contacting them to ensure that they are well.

When the situation with COVID – 19 is better and we can meet normally again, why not get together and learn a new skill?  Learning is a good way of maintaining your mental faculties. This could be something like repairing items like you see on the TV programme “The Repair Shop” or learning something new on the computer like ZOOM so that you can help others to keep in touch with their family who live far away. These are just a couple of ideas but the truth is the options are almost limitless.

It is no surprise that, since the start of the lockdowns, the number of people inviting a pet to share their home has increased substantially. Pets are such ice breakers and a walk and a passing conversation one day can very easily develop over time into a regular walking group and companionship.

Keeping up friendships and reaching out to others is a vital part of being in a community. We all need to do this especially when so many people have no family near and are on their own 24/7. Inviting a neighbour or friend to come out to the park to walk the dog and enjoy the wildlife is a great way of looking after each other.

Loneliness is a scourge in our society and we all need to take our part in caring about our friends and neighbours. Being alone should never mean that you are lonely.