You’re never too old to beat loneliness
By Laura Thacker and Gemma Holden, Community Navigators Bristol
We all experience the odd bout of loneliness from time to time. For older people, this can be made worse by the loss of a loved one, missing the social contact of work after retirement or health problems that make it difficult to get out and about.
According to Age UK, there are 1.2 million older people in England who are ‘chronically lonely’. What’s more, loneliness is thought to be as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It is associated with depression, sleep problems, impaired cognitive health, hypertension, psychological stress and may be linked to dementia.
If you are an older person who feels lonely, there are plenty of things you can do which will help:
Join a local group
There are lots of activities happening in local communities, such as coffee mornings, community choirs, walking groups or art clubs. Well Aware has a comprehensive list --you can look at the calendar of activities or search by keyword www.wellaware.org.uk
Rekindle an old hobby
If you had a much-loved hobby that fell by the wayside, now could be the time to revisit that interest. Or you could even try something completely new!
Volunteer – this is a great way to stay active and meet new people –and share your experience and skills with a local charity. You can find volunteering opportunities on the Do It website https://do-it.org/
Learn something new
Keeping the mind active in older life is as important to health as keeping physically active. The University of the Third Age (U3A) run informal activity sessions, covering hundreds of different subjects https://www.u3a.org.uk/
Get support from Community Navigators Bristol
This is a new service that offers free support and signposting to help older people feel less isolated and get more involved in their community. Community Navigators can take the time to find out what’s important to you and might even visit you at home a few times so they can support you personally. Your Community Navigator will share information about what’s happening locally to help you get involved in things you’re interested in. They can also help tackle any concerns you might have about getting out and about – things like safety, transport or money worries – by linking you up with other community groups and services that can help. And if you’re feeling nervous about trying something new, your navigator can even come along with you the first time to offer that extra support and reassurance.
How to get support
If you are over 50 and you’re feeling lonely or isolated, get in touch with Community Navigators Bristol. You can also make a referral on behalf of someone you know.
For more information visit www.communitynavigators.org.uk
Community Navigators Bristol is run by a partnership of trusted local organisations and is funded by Bristol Ageing Better.
North Bristol Advice Centre are working closely with Southmead Development Trust, Ambition Lawrence Weston, Avonmouth Community Centre and Shirehampton Community Action Forum to deliver the service across North Bristol http://www.northbristoladvice.org.uk/our-services/community-navigators-north