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Loneliness and Social Isolation

an elderly Chinese woman is feeling loneliness staring out a windowWho experiences loneliness?

Most of us will experience loneliness at some point in our lives, and we all experience loneliness differently. It’s a common misconception that loneliness is limited to older people. A survey carried out in 2018 found that 16-24-year-olds are the loneliest age group in the UK (Generation lonely: Millennials loneliest age Brunel University 2018) That said older people are especially vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation – and it can have a serious effect on health. But there are ways to overcome loneliness, even if you live alone and find it hard to get out.

Why do I feel lonely even when I'm not alone?

You don’t have to be on your own to feel lonely - you might feel lonely in a relationship or while spending time with friends or family – especially if you don't feel understood or cared for by the people around you. Other people might choose to be alone and live happily without much social contact. (Information taken from Loneliness Guide | Marmalade Trust)

Types of loneliness

There are different types, including:

Emotional loneliness - When someone you were very close with is no longer there. This could be a partner or a close friend. 

Social loneliness - When you feel like you’re lacking a wider social network of friends, neighbours or colleagues.

Transient loneliness - A feeling that comes and goes.

Situational loneliness - Loneliness which you only feel at certain times like Sundays, bank holidays or Christmas.

Chronic loneliness - When you feel lonely all or most of the time.

(Information taken from Loneliness Guide | Marmalade Trust)

How to overcome loneliness +

The NHS website offers some really helpful advice on how to overcome feeling lonely and isolated.  Advice includes:

  • Smile, even if it feels hard
  • Invite friends for Tea
  • Keep in touch by phone
  • Learn to love computers
  • Get involved in community activities
  • Fill your diary
  • Get out and about
  • Help others
  • Join the University of the Third Age

Organisations and agencies that can offer support +

Re-engage: Charity Supporting Older People Through Volunteering (reengage.org.uk) – is an organisation that aims to provide social connections for older people at a time in their lives when social circles might be diminishing.   You can get a call companion and apply to join one of their tea parties! You'll be collected from your home and driven to a volunteer host's home for the afternoon. Apply online or call Re-engage on 0800 716 543.

The Silver Line – offers friendship, conversation, and support to those who need it at any time of the day.  Call free on 0800 470 80 90

Age UK offers advice on:

How to deal with loneliness

What can cause loneliness?

How can I find someone to speak to?

How can I make new connections?

What should I do if I'm worried about my mental health?

Independent Age has published a guide about what to do if you're feeling lonely, which includes tips about activities you could try.

If you\'re feeling lonely leaflet

Advice-Guide-If-youre-feeling-lonely.pdf (independentage.org) 

U3a is a UK-wide collection of 1000+ charities that provide the opportunity for those no longer in work to come together and learn for fun.

Loneliness Guide | Marmalade Trust