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I started looking for trusted information on the internet on this subject it's a huge topic probably because most of us fear being alone. So I've collected interesting bits from different sources will credit them so you can read the full articles if they interest you.
Of all the fantasies human beings entertain, the idea that we can go it alone is the most absurd and perhaps the most dangerous .
The MP Jo Cox was known in Westminster for wanting to form coalitions across party lines. Seema Kennedy, a Conservative MP, wanted the same. Together, they planned a commission into loneliness to begin in late 2016 – a call to action rather than politicians saying stuff and doing nothing. On the 16th of June, 2016, Cox's ambition was cut short. She was murdered in her West Yorkshire constituency. Her killer, Thomas Mair, was an extreme right-wing terrorist. A loner.
In the wake of Cox's death, Kennedy and others are taking her plans forward. They have revealed the great work Cox did, gathering data on loneliness to emphatically prove it's not just something that affects older people. Figures collected by 13 charities reveal that over nine million people in the UK – almost a fifth of the population – say they are always or often lonely. Two-thirds feel uncomfortable admitting to it. Cox knew that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. "She called loneliness the 'silent epidemic'," says Rachel Wicks, who works on the commission's PR. "We want to start conversations," she says.
Our worldview is not going to change overnight. Possibly not in a generation. So we have to think small, of the everyday. Verbalise our own loneliness, be aware of others' circumstances and how loneliness is cultivated. Breaking through our awkwardness and calling people that we know want to hear from us. At the root of our loneliness is what Dr J.Watts calls "the lost fundamental drive" – that is, belonging to a community that registers and cares about us. That's what we need to remember.
Five Myths About Loneliness
By Claudia Hammond
13 February 2018
At some point in our lives, the chances are that you and I will feel lonely. It’s a problem that’s getting a lot of coverage at the moment. The UK even has a new Minister for Loneliness charged with working across government departments to address the issue. It’s an important topic and one that causes a lot of misery, but there are plenty of myths surrounding it. Here are five of the biggest.
1) Loneliness is all about isolation
Feeling lonely is not the same as being alone. Loneliness is a feeling of disconnection. It’s the sense that no-one around you really understands you and that you don’t have the kind of meaningful connections you would like. Isolation can be a factor, but it’s not the only one. You can feel lonely in a crowd, just as you can feel perfectly happy, even relieved, to spend some time alone. When the BBC conducted the Rest Test in 2016, the top five most popular restful activities all were ones that tend to be done alone. Sometimes we want to be alone. But if we don’t have the option to spend time with people who understand us, that’s when loneliness strikes.
2) There’s an epidemic of loneliness at the moment
Loneliness is undoubtedly getting a higher profile, but that doesn’t mean that a higher percentage of people feel lonely now compared to a few years ago. Using studies going back to 1948, Christina Victor from Brunel University has shown that the proportion of older people experiencing chronic loneliness has remained steady for 70 years, with 6-13% saying they feel lonely all or most of the time. But it is true that the actual numbers of lonely people are rising simply because there are more people in the world. So there is no doubt that loneliness is causing a lot of sadness.
3) Loneliness is always bad
Loneliness hurts. But the good news is that it’s often temporary – and shouldn’t be seen as entirely negative. Instead, it can be the signal to us to look for new friends or to find a way of improving our existing relationships.
Does loneliness disproportionately affect older people?
The social neuroscientist John Cacioppo argues that we’ve evolved to experience loneliness in order to prompt us to maintain our connections with other people. He likens it to thirst. If you are thirsty you look for water. If you are lonely you look for other people. For many thousands of years humans have stayed safe by living in co-operative groups, so it makes sense to have a survival mechanism which drives us to connect with others.
Although loneliness is usually temporary, it is true that when it becomes chronic the consequences can be serious. There is good evidence that it can lower our well-being, affect the quality of our sleep, and lead to sadness. It can also result in a vicious cycle in which people feel so lonely that they withdraw from social situations, which in turn makes them feel even lonelier. Research has shown that if a person feels lonely, their risk of experiencing depressive symptoms a year later is higher.
4) Loneliness leads to ill health
This one is a bit more complicated. You often see statistics quoted on the effect that loneliness can have on our health. Reviews of the research have found that it could increase the risk of heart disease and stroke by almost a third and that lonely people have higher blood pressure and a lower life expectancy.
Loneliness is seen as such an issue that the UK hired its first minister for loneliness .
These are serious outcomes, but many of the studies are cross-sectional, taking a snapshot in time, so we can’t be certain of the causality. It is possible that unhappily isolated people are more likely to become ill. But it could also happen the other way around. People could become isolated and lonely because they already have poor health, which stops them from socialising. Or lonely people may show up in the statistics as less healthy because their loneliness has robbed them of the motivation to look after their health. And of course it needn’t be a case of it happening in one direction or the other. It could work both ways.
5) Most older people are lonely
Loneliness is more common in old age than in other adults, but in her review of loneliness across the lifespan Pamela Qualter from the University of Manchester found there is also a peak in adolescence. Meanwhile, studies show that 50-60% of older people are not often lonely.
Although loneliness is usually temporary, the consequences can be serious if it becomes chronic .
There is still plenty we don’t know about loneliness. That is why we want to fill in some of those gaps in the scientific literature with the BBC Loneliness Experiment, devised by psychologists from Manchester, Brunel and Exeter Universities in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection. We want people the world over to fill in the survey, whether they’re young or old, lonely or not. The aim is to discover more about friendship, trust and the solutions to loneliness that really work, so that more people can feel connected.
Take the survey here: www.thelonelinessexperiment.com
All content within this column is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. The BBC is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of this site. The BBC is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites. Always consult your own GP if you're in any way concerned about your health.
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Loneliness In Older People - Source NHS Choices
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.
Hundreds of thousands of elderly people are lonely and cut off from society in this country, especially those over the age of 75.
According to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
People can become socially isolated for a variety of reasons, such as getting older or weaker, no longer being the hub of their family, leaving the workplace, the deaths of spouses and friends, or through disability or illness.
Whatever the cause, it's shockingly easy to be left feeling alone and vulnerable, which can lead to depression and a serious decline in physical health and wellbeing.
Someone who is lonely probably also finds it hard to reach out. There is a stigma surrounding loneliness, and older people tend not to ask for help because they have too much pride.
It's important to remember loneliness can – and does – affect anyone, of any age. Here are ways for older people to connect with others and feel useful and appreciated again.
Smile, even if it feels hard
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.
Invite friends for Tea
If you're feeling down and alone, it's tempting to think nobody wants to visit you. But often friends, family and neighbours will appreciate receiving an invitation to come and spend some time with you.
If you would prefer for someone else to host, Contact the Elderly is a charity that holds regular free Sunday afternoon tea parties for people over the age of 75 who live alone. You will be collected from your home and driven to a volunteer host's home for the afternoon. Apply online or call Contact the Elderly on 0800 716 543.
Keep In Touch By Phone
Having a chat with a friend or relative over the phone can be the next best thing to being with them. Or you can call The Silver Line, a helpline for older people set up by Esther Rantzen, on 0800 4 70 80 90.
You can also call Independent Age on 0800 319 6789, Age UK on 0800 169 2081, or Friends of the Elderly on 020 7730 8263 to receive a weekly or fortnightly friendship call from a volunteer who enjoys talking to older people.
Community Network brings people together on the phone each week. To join or start a telephone group, call 020 7923 5250.
Learn to love computers
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).
You can share emails and photos with family and friends, have free video chats using services such as Skype, FaceTime or Viber, and make new online "friends" or reconnect with old friends on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter and website forums.
A tablet computer can be especially useful if you can't get around very easily, as you can sit with it on your knee or close to hand and the screen is clear and bright. A sponge-tip stylus pen or speech recognition may help if the touchscreen is difficult for arthritic hands or fingers with poor circulation.
Libraries and community centres often hold regular training courses for older people to learn basic computer skills – as well as being a good place to meet and spend time with others in their own right.
Local branches of Age UK run classes in computing to help older people get to grips with smartphones, tablet computers and email.
Get some tips and advice on how to become more confident using the internet, including how to access your GP surgery online and how to look for reliable online health information.
You can find somewhere local to take free or low-cost computer courses through UK Online Centres.
Get involved in local community activities
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.
Not to mention local branches of regional and national organisations that hold social events, such as the Women's Institute, Rotary, Contact the Elderly, and Brendoncare clubs in the south of England. The Silver Line helpline (0800 470 8090) can let you know what's going on in your local area.
Fill your diary
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, going to a local coffee shop, library, sports centre, cinema or museum.
Independent Age has published a guide about what to do if you're feeling lonely, which includes tips about activities you could try. Download If you're feeling lonely - how to stay connected in older age (PDF, 2.97Mb) or order a free print copy by calling 0800 319 6789, or email email@example.com.
Get out and about
Don't wait for people to come and see you – travel to visit them.
One advantage of being older is that public transport is better value. Local bus travel is free for older people across England. The age at which you can apply for your free bus pass depends on when you were born and where you live. Contact your local authority for more information on how to apply.
Use this State Pension calculator to find out the exact date when you can apply for your free bus pass.
For longer distances, train and coach travel can be cheap, too, especially if you book in advance online and use a Senior Railcard.
The Royal Voluntary Service can put you in touch with volunteers who provide free transport for older people with mobility issues or who live in rural areas with limited public transport.
Use the knowledge and experience you've 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. Examples are Home-Start, Sure Start, helping in a local charity shop or hospital, Citizens Advice, and school reading programmes.
Find out how to volunteer in your area on the Volunteering England website.
Read more about how to get started as a volunteer.
Join the University of the Third Age
The University of the Third Age (U3A) operates in many areas, offering older people the chance to learn or do something new.
Run by volunteers, U3A has no exams. Instead, it gives you the chance to do, play or learn something you may never have done before, or something you've not considered since your school days. U3A is also a great place to meet people and make new friends.
Find your nearest U3A online.