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.
The impact of loneliness on our health

Loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience. Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health: lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity. Loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%.

Realize that loneliness is an indication that something needs to change. Start performing below & bring the change yourself:

1. Smile, even if it feels hard

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Grab every chance to smile at others or begin a conversation – for instance, with the cashier at the shop or the person next to you in the GP waiting room.

If you’re shy or not sure what to say, try asking people about themselves.

2. Invite friends for tea

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If you’re feeling down and alone, it’s tempting to think nobody wants to visit you. But often friends, family and neighbors will appreciate receiving an invitation to come and spend some time with you.

3. Keep in touch by phone

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Having a chat with a friend or relative over the phone can be the next best thing to being with them.

4. Learn to love computers

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If your friends and family live far away, a good way to stay in touch, especially with grandchildren, is by using a personal computer or tablet (a handheld computer).

5. Get involved in local community activities

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These will vary according to where you live, but the chances are you’ll have access to a singing or walking group, book clubs, bridge, bingo, quiz nights and faith groups.

6. Fill your diary

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It can help you feel less lonely if you plan the week ahead and put things in your diary to look forward to each day, such as a walk in the park or going to a local coffee shop, library, sports center, cinema or museum.

7. Get out and about

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Don’t wait for people to come and see you – travel to visit them.

8. Help others

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Use the knowledge and experience you have gained over a lifetime to give something back to your community.

You’ll get lots back in return, such as new skills and confidence – and, hopefully, some new friends, too.

There are endless volunteering opportunities that relish the qualities and skills of older people, such as patience, experience and calmness.

** These articles do not imply an endorsement of Doctor Alert by the author or their institution, nor do they imply an endorsement of the institution or author by Doctor Alert.
Some of the content may be adapted from other sources, which will be clearly identified within the article.
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