Fight loneliness this winter

Did you know that more than half of people aged over 75 live by themselves? And while one in ten suffers from intense loneliness, they are reluctant to ask for help.

Loneliness can increase during the winter months, when older people find it harder to get out and about. That person could be someone you know: perhaps they are a relative, friend or neighbour. But there are charities out there that can help.

Many older people go for days on end without seeing or talking to anyone. Perhaps their family and friends live miles away. Or they may live in an isolated place, be bereaved, housebound or caring for someone else. Whatever their situation, they just want to hear a friendly voice at the end of the phone. And that is where Silver Linecomes in.

Silver Line is a confidential, free charity helpline offering information, friendship and advice to older people. Lines are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Silver Line team can help alleviate loneliness via regular telephone calls, emails or letters. They can also put people in touch with local social groups and services.

Another charity which can help is Independent Age which adopts an ABC policy to address the three types of poverty encountered by older people: financial, social and information. The charity can offer advice on a wide range of issues, from how to get help at home and accessing benefits to advice on moving into a care home.

It also offers a befriending service which comprises of one-to-one visits, telephone calls or group chats. Independent Living also campaigns for older people’s rights.

Independent Age produces the ‘Wise Guide – Happy, Healthy, Connected,’ which is full of ideas on ways that older people can combat the effects of loneliness and isolation. It offers support and advice for older people living alone and shows that there are lots of things they can do to keep in touch with friends and family, stay active, get involved with activities and live life to the full, whatever their stage of life.

To order a free copy telephone 0800 319 6611 or visit www.independentage.org The charity also offers a range of befriending services to alleviate loneliness. Call 0800 319 6789 to find out more.

Aside from telling others about these charities, there are other ways in which you can help. If you have a lonely friend, relative or neighbour, why not call in on them more regularly to see how they are? If they cannot get out and about as much during the winter, why not offer to run some errands for them, or do their weekly shop when you do yours?

You could suggest they do their shopping online, meaning their purchases will be delivered straight to their door. It is also a good idea to have a fully stocked medicine cupboard and to make sure their emergency numbers are to hand and/or stored in their mobile phone.

This year, Local Resilience Forum partners are working together to ensure important winter messages are shared with staff via the ‘Winter Watch’ campaign. The idea is that by sharing basic advice and ‘top tips,’ we can help keep ourselves and friends, neighbours and relatives safe. For more information about organisations and charities which can help older people, visit the following websites:

NHS Choices

Independent Age

Silverline