Loneliness is being talked about more and more within the media, among policy makers and by society as a whole. Has there been an increase in loneliness, or are we understanding and talking about the concept more? Maybe it’s a little of both.
Loneliness can affect the new mother who has no adult contact, the isolated grandmother whose last conversation was 4 days ago, the recently widowed husband who isn’t sure what routine means anymore, or the working professional who goes home to an empty house. No one is immune. Some people value their solitude, but when does solitude turn to loneliness? Families used to live in the same house, same street – at most a couple of streets away in the same village. Now we have cousins in Australia, sons and daughters in Scotland, brothers and sisters in America.
Popping round seems to no longer be an option, and individuals are turning to other avenues of support and contact where family once was. Even if you do have people around you, unless you feel in control and view these contacts as meaningful, you can still be lonely. Who wants to be talked at, made to feel inadequate or made to participate with an activity just because someone thinks it’s what you should do, what you need.
The key lies with being able to connect with those you want to, when you want to, how you want to. A coffee with Frank, a game of cards with Joyce, a film with Jenny, a chat with Aunty Catherine….
There are some fantastic options out there to reduce loneliness, with businesses, charities and communities becoming more focused on making sure the hard to reach, isolated and lonely are reached, and in ways that make them want to engage.
What would you like in place to make you less lonely? What ideas do you have to help others?