Amsterdam, 20 april 2021– Loneliness has been described as one of the biggest public health emergencies amongst older people in recent years.
The effects of the virus pandemic have made things a lot harder for those already feeling isolated, so it’s never been more important to beat those blues.
As the years keep creeping on and on, sometimes spring or summer approaches and sometimes the fall and winter, we’re reminded that winter is often the hardest time of year for those suffering from loneliness.
The combination of colder days, longer nights and the traditionally joyful festive period can really highlight feelings of isolation for anyone who spends a lot of time alone.
We also know that loneliness can have an impact on a person’s mental and physical health. Isolation can feed into feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, which in turn can detrimentally affect things like appetite, energy levels and heart health.
What makes things even worse this year is the prospect of continued coronavirus lockdown measures. This could mean that many more of our older relatives living alone may struggle to regularly see loved ones over the coming months. This means it’s even more important than ever before to plan ahead and ensure nobody feels left out in the cold this winter.
How can we help combat the blues and loneliness during a lockdown?
The last few months have brought so many challenges to people in all aspects of societies. However, we’ve generally been quite quick to adapt our regular habits and support others. Whether it’s leaving shopping on the doorstep or meeting for a socially distanced walk in the park, we’ve managed to find ways of reaching out to provide company to one another.
Whilst the country isn’t expected to go back to full lockdown measures, restrictions are becoming a bit tighter than they were in the summer. There are now limits on the numbers of people who can meet and curfews have been imposed on places like pubs and restaurants.
Earlier this year, many people started to embrace an increased use of phone and video calls to stay in touch with loved ones from afar. While they can never replace the feeling of being with friends and family in person, regular calls can certainly help us to ensure those living alone are safe and well.
Try and create a schedule where you call your loved one at the same time every day or several days a week. Not only will the regular conversation provide a sense of comfort and companionship to an older person living alone, but it’s also helpful to establish a familiar routine. There’s still a long time to go until the height of the festive period in December and it’s hard to say how government guidances around the world will evolve between now and then. However, it’s important that we don’t neglect those who may be struggling and we reach out where possible and when it’s safe to do so.
Read also about Friendship and Happiness Masterclass.