Age UK

Tackling loneliness in isolation

Email sent: Mar 20, 2017 8:01 am

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Welcome to a special tackling loneliness and isolation edition of The loop / Y ddolen 

Wales could soon be facing a loneliness epidemic if local authorities do not take action now to tackle the problem.

 
We recently launched our ‘No one should have no one – tackling loneliness and isolation in Wales’ campaign. Isolation and loneliness are a daily reality for many older people in Wales, with 75,000 older people saying I’m ‘always or often’ lonely.
 
The impact of dealing with the physical and mental health effects of loneliness is also putting added pressure on local authority and health services. We’re calling for a national conversation on the issue.
 
We believe the causes of isolation and loneliness among older people in Wales should be addressed as a national public health priority. There are many reasons why older people can become isolated – such as poor transport; an inaccessible built environment in our towns and cities, and a lack of local amenities and facilities, including public toilets.

 
And while the effects of this isolation may not be immediately obvious, being lonely can increase the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease and most worryingly there is a proven link between loneliness, depression and suicide. With our ageing population, this situation will continue to get worse and there will be a national isolation epidemic in Wales unless we take steps now and tackle isolation as a national public health priority.

Our ‘No one should have no one’ campaign is calling on local authorities to:
  • Create safe, accessible built environments with places to meet that are easily accessible by integrated local public and community transport;
  • Involve older people in identifying and developing solutions to isolation;
  • Work with housing, transport, health, care, voluntary sector organisations and GPs to deliver practical and emotional help to tackle loneliness;
  • Provide services that prevent or manage loneliness and isolation at life stages  which are likely to increase loneliness, such as bereavement, having to stop driving or moving to a new home or residential care;
  • Agree specific local actions to reduce loneliness and monitor and evaluate their impact.
Our ‘No one should have no one – tackling loneliness and isolation in Wales’ campaign manifesto can be downloaded from our website.
 
No one should have no one manifesto
John reads the words of 82 year old Bill on how loneliness and isolation has affected him.

Gill contacted us recently to tell us about her experience of isolation and loneliness


I’m Gill Stafford, 68 years old and a retired health information and IT officer. I live in Abergele with my 30-year-old son who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. I’m his sole carer. We moved to Abergele from Chirk after my husband passed away two years ago.
We moved from our previous home in Chirk where I could go days without speaking to a soul - I used to catch the bus just so I could speak to someone – it’s a good way to have a conversation. But at least here in Abergele, people are friendlier and a walk in the park means I meet and greet several people who reply back.
 
However my social situation still means I experience loneliness as I have no friends or relations within several hours journey.  I have few surviving relatives and times like Christmas are extremely lonely. I can leave my son home alone for several hours on the one day of the week he has support, but this is again a lonely time for me. The activities that I'd like to access are rarely at the times I'm able to leave my son, but you’ve got to make the effort yourself to get out there. My son and I went to the local carers group but the rude and patronizing behaviour by a fellow carer towards my son meant that we felt we could not go there again.  

I was a great dancer when I was younger and I now do line dancing. It’s not proper dancing, but I do enjoy it. My son plays Boccia  - a sport which is similar to bowls and was originally designed for people with cerebral palsy, and I run the local Boccia club, which gives me the chance to meet people.  I dropped into the Boccia club by accident and ended up running the club and it’s been a phenomenal success. Volunteering with the Boccia club is one way I’ve expanded my life and it’s really helped with my overall health and wellbeing.

Facebook is a lifeline as this is the way to keep in touch with friends and friends of friends. 

The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness: ‘start a conversation’ in your community


We wanted to let you know about our involvement in Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, an exciting opportunity to tackle loneliness in our community. 

The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness is a cross-party initiative designed to increase the public’s awareness of loneliness and encourage us all to act to tackle it. Jo Cox MP was passionate about the issue of loneliness and started the Commission before her murder in June 2016. Age Cymru is working with Age UK and a wide range of charities and Parliamentarians to honour Jo’s legacy through the Commission’s work.

The Commission is asking us all to ‘start a conversation’ about loneliness in our communities and what we can do about it. Loneliness not only makes life miserable but is terrible for our health.


Do you miss having someone to chat to? Why not ring Age Cymru Advice for details of local befriending services or groups in your area. You can speak to one of our advisers in Welsh or English - Age Cymru Advice - 08000 223 444. Our Age Cymru Advice Line also acts as a gateway to your local Age Cymru office where you can get face to face support and home visits may be available in your area.

If you’re one of our fantastic volunteers, why not show your support for the Commission and tell your story of how you’ve started a conversation in your community? Use #happytochat on Twitter or Facebook, or email us.
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Age Cymru                                      Tel:  029 2043 1555
Tŷ John Pathy                                 Email:  policy@agecymru.org.uk
13/14 Neptune Court                       Age Cymru Advice:  08000 223 444               
Vanguard Way
Cardiff,  CF24 5PJ                          
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Age Cymru · Tŷ John Pathy, 13/14 Neptune Court · Vanguard Way · Cardiff, CF24 5PJ · United Kingdom

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