Loneliness and Isolation in older people

Research by Age UK indicates that half of over 75-year olds live alone and half of those aged 65 years and over say that television and or pets are their main form of company, this equates to over 5 million people in the UK.

Loneliness can be defined as an individual’s personal sense of lacking closeness and social interaction with others. However, loneliness is dependent on the quality rather than the number of relationships or regular interactions an individual has. Social isolation refers to a lack of contact with family or friends, community or neighbourhood involvement, or access to services and groups.

It is known that loneliness puts individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline and depression in addition one study concluded that lonely people have a 64% increased chance of developing clinical dementia. Recent ONS research found that those who were widowed or in poorer health were more likely to describe themselves as being lonely than others.

Here in Bristol, Bristol Ageing Better has created a programme to aim to reduce isolation and loneliness in older people by creating the conditions to reduce and prevent loneliness, identifying and informing older people at risk of loneliness, working with communities to increase services and activities available and supporting individuals to live fulfilling lives. More information can be found on their website http://bristolageingbetter.org.uk/.

Recently Oasis Talk have partnered with Bristol Ageing Better to deliver tailored counselling to older people and carers in Bristol. At Oasis Talk we know that older people don’t tend to take up the opportunity to access talking therapies and we are keen to make these services more accessible. Consequently, by working with Bristol Ageing Better we plan to identify ways to make our services more widely available to older people and thereby help to improve the mental health and wellbeing of this growing demographic. For further information or to make a referral to the new counselling service please contact us on 0117 9277 577 or email zuleika.gregory@oasis-talk.org