“Same Old, Same Old – Loneliness”

Here is another theme from the “Repetitive News Headlines” about older people in the news over the last 12 months.  (Click in the TAG CLOUD on “Same Old Same Old” for other posts on the theme).

Loneliness and isolation has been a frequent subject in my blogs:-

  • A quarter of those over 75 who live alone, go whole days without any human contact;
  • Half of all pensioners say TV or their pet is their main source of company;
  • The link between loneliness and ill-health is well established;
  • Social isolation is more damaging than not exercising and twice as harmful as obesity;
  • Loneliness increases the risk of depression and raises the odds of developing dementia by two-thirds.

Report after report reiterates these findings.  Meanwhile, Local Authorities have been forced to close day centres and subsidised public transport has been gradually reduced.  Short term austerity measures have a high cost in human terms but eventually lead to higher costs to the NHS.

Action is required, not more reports and newspaper headlines.   The voluntary sector needs to be better funded to enable more elderly people to get out and about and socialise.

This could be a new daytime role for the many struggling pubs at lunchtime.    It already happens on a small informal scale.    It needs to be stepped up to a whole new level.

             How about ——-   Pubs as communication hubs :-).

Many pubs have “happy hours” to entice early evening customers after their working day by offering cheap drinks.    Why not have a similar “age-friendly seniors happy hour” every afternoon and encourage older people to get together in their local pub.    Activities could be supported by offering health advice talks;  education classes run by the University of the Third Age and games and quizzes to refresh the ageing brain.    GPs could offer red wine on prescription – for health reasons of course – all those anti-oxidants :-).

pubjpeg (2)

I appreciate pubs have to run on commercial lines but an influx of new customers in the afternoon would not only bring in new business, but could be partly subsidised by the health service to cover the costs of the use of their facilities.    This would require bold and innovative new thinking by the NHS, but it would be a positive response to the fact that there is a strong correlation between social isolation and loneliness with ill health.

Maybe Age UK could see this as a new line of business 🙂 a new chain of age-friendly pubs building a social network for older people.    Easy access for wheelchairs throughout – especially to the toilets.    Sufficient space between tables for wheelchairs.    Waiter/waitress service to your table so you don’t have to carry your own and other people’s drinks.    Large print menus and small portion meals.    These are not major changes that require significant investment, but they do require a more open and age-friendly approach to the everyday needs of older people.

Next we could to go on and apply this approach everywhere else so that old people feel welcome everywhere they go:-

Personal shoppers for people who can’t get out;

Shops that offer home delivery for old people, free of charge;

Supermarkets with age-friendly check-out lanes exclusively for old people;

Schools that invite older people in to act as teaching assistants, 1-1 pupil helpers, living historians;

Mobility scooter lanes on all inner city roads and charging points at convenient locations in every town.

Banks with real people behind the counter to answer your requests, rather than automated computers.

It is not much to ask !  Most of these services could be provided free of charge in an “age-friendly” city in recognition of the contribution older people have made to society over the years, but also in respect of the fact that older people in later life can continue to offer much to society as volunteers.    The other effect of this greater engagement of older people is likely to be a positive impact it has on their lives and the beneficial reduction in their health care needs.

 

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2 Responses to “Same Old, Same Old – Loneliness”

  1. Once again I am intrigued, not by the individual words, but by the collective message,. Pubs, I hear one mention as the centre of excellence for the the old dodgers to gathers, and spend a few moments or half hour together exchanging social chit chat, and that very welcome occasional handshake or peck on the check, human bonding with ones fellow man?
    The word ‘PUB’ conjures up a men only society, and an alcoholic haze, maybe? However look deeper, and around at our, or your local society, what do you find for that elderly group?
    Cannot PUBS offer coffee/tea and other non alcoholic beverages, besides that cumfy arm chair to settle into, and enjoy those few quiet moments with a friend or friends? Another avenue is our social fabric of local society, are there not local swimming pools with cafe’s attached, or in fact if one is lucky even that local retirement village or complex down the road? Are these establishments places of shelter and sustenance for the body and soul of the more elderly generation? Do they survive in isolation, and with a remote culture that it is for the select few, or does this environment encourage, both family and younger generation, and again friends and aquaintences to visit and make these places vibrant and desirable places to spend ones few hours in enjoying human companionship.,
    Are these retirement villages what one would call a retreat? Boulderdash, that mentality is dangerous and self defeating? We need encouragement to have an open society with all social classes, provided they act with responsibility and respect and self respect for each other! I should imagine we are not asking for 24 hours companionship 7 days aweek, but a few times/hours in the day when we share our thoughts and minds together as a unified society? ( Or is this pie in the sky?)
    One has to think? and outside the box (Literally or one will wind up in one?), what does one want in old age? is it not companionship, stimulation, the curiosity of the young, and above all that human requirement to be able to talk and chit chat with ones fellow neighbour. We or I do not wish to be closetted into a society of ageism/old age the key thrown away, and left in a corner, to stare a four blank walls, the ceiling and the floor, and to be feed like cattle until my time is up?
    We can talk , we do have a voice and most important of all a vote, so through contact and influence with our younger generations and family, we could at least express our aspirations and wishes.
    Some of the more modern mediums also allow us to do this also? such as twitter, and facebook.: However I like sites like this one where I am chatting, communicating with a known cyber friend.
    AS one can gather I am but just a windy ‘Old Fart’ full of my own importance.

  2. Hello duckie!! How are you? My memory is playing tricks? In a distant haze I went back to my former self as a teenager in the LEEDS Area, and low and behold- the older generation! My close friends much older sister (Nora), was an employeee of the local(National Gas Board) on a part time basis 3 days a week. On Nora’s days off work she would often visit within the local district of Leeds afternoon gatherings of the elderly , often based in Cinema Halls, church halls, retirement homes (Run by the council, and town halls, or other local places where people could congregate (Drill Halls) and help serve refreashment, and enertain the gather audience with a sing along, a solo virtuoso, or call out numbers for Housey housey.
    These meetings in the Leeds area came under the banner of ‘Darby and Joan Clubs’. All I can addd is that the elderly within our society, have gathered to be together and enjoyed the company of the younger generation.
    We are now all reaching that age (The majority of the UK Population) where the elderly able bodied, not so able bodied, need to meet to chat and converse, either is some designated watering hole, community or activity centre (The local Gym for Instance), for that chinwag and few words of welcome and greeting to ensure we are still human, and not zombies?
    What did I do while NORA did her bit, Iam afraid as a teenage boy, played football/cricket or games outdoors, with my pal and friends- The oldies or the older generation if not in the family group where beyond my comprehension, so I was aware of the elderly and my older neighbours, but not involved in their well being! Now I am one of them, I wish to encompass all helpers, and especially the curiosity and vigour of the younger , and very younger generations with their curiosity of life.

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