There are many reasons why people can become lonely as they get older. But there are lots of ways this can be avoided.
Many people benefit from taking up new activities. This might be by joining a community group, volunteering, or learning computer skills.
Most people believe that being able to talk and laugh with someone is the most important thing of all. Research shows that being lonely is bad for our mental and physical health.
Why not meet new friends? Here are a few suggestions.
Age UK Together Befriending Service
Phone 0800 169 2081 and ask for information about the service. Talk to Sue Creighton for Somerset. Phone 01823 345610
Campaign to end loneliness and petition people can sign and donate.
University of the Third Age (U3A) - not a university but a very popular and economical way to join in with interest groups run by expert volunteers, anything from bridge, walking, bowls, day trips out on a wide range of themes - whatever takes your fancy. Phone 0208 466 6139
Help an older person stay well this winter. Give time to help a person who may be isolated. When winter sets in clear paths or just offer to get shopping. Keep an eye on vulnerable neighbours who may need help when the colder weather really sets in.
Village Agents -hosted by Community Council for Somerset
Somerset Community Foundation - surviving winter campaign
What can you do?
Smile, even if it feels hard
Grab every chance to smile or begin a conversation.
Invite friends for tea
If you're feeling down and alone, it's tempting to think that no one wants to visit you. But often, friends, family and neighbours will appreciate receiving an invitation to come and spend some time with you.
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.
Learn to love computers
If your friends and family live far away, a good way to keep in touch, especially with grandchildren, is by using a computer. You can share emails and photos, have free video chats using online services and make new online 'friends' or reconnect with old friends using social media.
Get involved in local community activities
There are a huge number of social groups in Somerset from walking groups, singing groups, book clubs, bridge, bingo, quiz nights and faith groups.
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. This could be something as simple as a walk in the park, going to a local coffee shop, library, cinema or museum.
Get out and about
Don't wait for people to come and see you, travel to visit them.
Help other people
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, new friends.
You can find more information about reducing the feelings of loneliness on the NHS Choices website.
For advice about local befriending options contact the Age UK Somerset Befriending Service or phone 0845 643 4703 and ask for details of the Together Service.
Another option is to join a local Somerset Active Living group. There are over 120 across Somerset. You can find out more on the Somerset Active Living website or phone Somerset You can Do on 01278 664188.
Speak to your doctor if you feel unhappy or unable to cope. Anyone can develop depression at some time in their life and getting help early is very important.
Or you may like to phone Somerset Direct on 0300 123 2224 for information about your entitlements to support.
Somerset libraries offer many opportunities for people to get out, join a group and meet new friends. Here are a few examples of groups taking place in libraries around Somerset. Please search this site for libraries or ask at your local library for activities near to you.
- 'Feel Better with a Book' groups - reading groups for people with mental health difficulties
- Knit and Natter groups - friendly social gatherings to talk and knit together
- RVS Home Library Service - volunteers deliver books, DVDs and talking books to people who cannot easily visit the library
- UK Online Sessions - teaching people computer basics
- Library Friends Groups - many libraries have a friends groups to support the library, offering an opportunity for people to get active in their community
Find more information using these links.
- Mind - How to Cope with Loneliness.
- Royal Voluntary Service's guide to feeling Well and overcoming loneliness
- Somerset Active Living
- Getting out and about