Using social networking sites, going for walks and joining dating websites are among the ways over-65’s are combating loneliness, it has emerged.
A study of 1,000 senior citizens shows 53 per cent often feel lonely – particularly when they are home alone.
53 per cent of over-65’s often feel lonely
But the majority are trying hard to overcome this, and stay connected with the outside world.
Researchers discovered seven in 10 retirees have taken to Facebook in a bid to stay in touch with friends and family, and a further one in 10 have started dating again.
Ways of combating lonliness
Going on shopping sprees; chatting to friends on the phone; and visiting friends or family are other ways older people try to combat loneliness.
A spokesperson for McCarthy and Stone, a developer and manager of retirement communities, which carried out the study, said: “Our survey shows many older people are feeling lonely, but rather than doing nothing about it, the majority are being proactive in finding friendship.
“Mastering technology is just one of the ways they are staying in touch with people they know and love.”
Understanding the feeling of lonliness
The research also found 42 per cent said being lonely makes them feel sad. 28 per cent admitting to feelings of depression.
More than one in five said it made them feel invisible. 15 per cent believe it affects their mental health.
80 per cent of those who are lonely have never told anyone
A staggering 80 per cent of those who are lonely have never told anyone else about this. One in seven admit to being ’embarrassed’ about feeling lonely.
Family and friends
When it comes to confiding in others, 42 per cent can’t bear to have people worrying about them. 37 per cent don’t want to be a burden.
One fifth of those polled said their families have enough of their own worries. A proud 49 per cent preferred to deal with their problems by themselves.
Just under half believe sons and daughters should look after their older parents. While 30 per cent think the healthcare profession should be responsible for lonely older people. A quarter think the government should be accountable.
Simple small gestures can make all the difference
But a resounding 68 per cent agree a small gesture from others – family, friends, neighbours and those within the local community – would make all the difference to how lonely they feel.
Paula Radcliffe MBE, brand ambassador for McCarthy and Stone’s #takesone2018 campaign, which is aimed at getting people to pledge to undertake one small action to help combat loneliness in the older generation, said: “My own Grandma was a very formidable lady.
”When my Grandad passed away she was determined to carry on.
”She travelled to see me three times in the Olympic Games and World Championships.
”She really was an inspiration, and she would always call me if she felt a bit low.
“My Grandma however, was probably in the minority of older people who often suffer in silence, or hide how their feeling because they’re embarrassed.
”It is so important we all take responsibility for the older generations living around us who might need some extra support.
“I think we all have opportunities to be a bit more community-minded. It’s important we pay attention to older people and try to meet them half way.
”After all, a smile can help anyone feel better no matter how old you are.”
Take the time to say hello
Just under half of those polled said a ‘good morning’ greeting from a neighbour would help them to feel less lonely, while for 39 per cent a cheery wave from a neighbour as they walk or drive past would make a difference.
A postman or courier stopping for a chat would lift the spirits of one in five. 28 per cent said someone calling round to check they were okay would help overcome feelings of loneliness, according to the OnePoll.com study.
Being invited out for a coffee or a walk; receiving an unexpected call or message from a friend or family member; and even being asked for their help were also among the small actions that could transform the way older people feel.
The spokesperson for McCarthy & Stone added: “It would be easy to get caught-up in our daily lives and to see the loneliness epidemic as someone else’s problem, but we all have a responsibility to the older people living in our communities.
“We are urging everyone to be aware of the older people living around them. We want them to get a little more involved in their neighbourhood from time to time.
“An impromptu chat with those living next door; being invited round for dinner once in a while; and even someone offering to put your bins out for the weekly collection are among the many thoughtful actions that can make all the difference when you’re feeling alone.”