Loneliness isn’t a ‘normal’ part of ChristmasLoneliness isn’t a ‘normal’ part of Christmas
Combatting loneliness is a topic we’re passionate about at Promedica24. It’s something we highlight and address all year round, but it comes into particularly sharp focus during the festive season, as this film from The Silver Line illustrates. Although Christmas is traditionally seen as a time when families come together, Age UK reported in 2017 that 500,000 older people across the UK expected to feel lonely during the 2018 festive season, and it’s likely that figure won’t have changed much.
Of all the statistics that Age UK produced in their 2018 pre-Christmas campaign, the one about 52 percent of those 500,000 older people saying that loneliness had become a ‘normal’ part of life is perhaps the most distressing. At Promedica24 we believe loneliness should NEVER become a normal part of life, and we pride ourselves on providing services that are incredibly effective at reducing the loneliness so many older and disabled people feel.
The physical and mental health effects of loneliness
What many people don’t consider when thinking about loneliness is how it impacts upon a person’s health and, ultimately, their life expectancy. This aspect of loneliness hit the headlines last month when The Telegraph reported on a year-long study from Copenhagen University Hospital that looked at the health outcomes of 13,443 people who’d had a heart attack:
“The study found that women who described themselves as lonely were three times more likely to die within a year of the attack than those with an active social life; and men in the same position were twice as likely to die within a year.”
The Telegraph article went on to cite another study that claimed the health effects of loneliness were comparable to smoking or obesity, increasing the risk of death by 26 percent, and linked loneliness with an enhanced risk of developing a variety of physical and mental health problems.
Is my loved one lonely?
One of the biggest challenges in combatting loneliness is realising when someone you care about is lonely. Christmas can be a time when it’s easier to spot loneliness, partly because of some of the rituals of Christmas, like contacting relatives, sending cards and exchanging presents. Look out for the following:
- Has your loved one given up with their usual Christmas routines, perhaps because they feel there is no point to them if they are going to be on their own? They may be neglecting their appearance or personal hygiene too.
- Is your loved one more keen than usual to see you, perhaps because they are feeling lonely, or conversely, they may be unwilling to see you because their loneliness has led to a reduction in their social abilities or created a social anxiety phobia?
- If your loved one has come to visit you, are they less enthusiastic than usual about returning to their own home?
- If you have gone to visit your loved one, is their previously clean and tidy home now more neglected or perhaps they aren’t eating as well as they used to?
- If you speak to your loved one on the phone, are they unusually vague about what they’ve been doing, lacking in motivation or talking in a way that suggests they feel worthless?
If your loved one is living with dementia, they may be particularly at risk of loneliness. The Alzheimer’s Society revealed earlier this year that 58 percent of people living with dementia in the community who they had surveyed admitted that they had experienced loneliness.
If your family member is lonely, we have a range of care provision that can help. Our companionship service is a great place to start – it’s for anyone who doesn’t want to be alone and needs some light support at home.
If you would like to find out more or access our services, please visit www.promedica24.co.uk to use our online chat service. You can also get in touch with our team on 0800 086 8686 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to assess your care and support needs rapidly online, we have a tool available for you to do this.
We can provide live-in care services across the whole of England and we would also encourage you to visit our testimonials page to read what our clients and their families have said about our services.