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DEC 15/2015

The facts around loneliness

Lonely older gentlemanChristmas for many is a time to connect with family and friends but sadly over half a million older people are expected to spend the day alone.1 Our blog explores the topic of loneliness, the impact it can have on a person’s health and offers top tips to homecare workers. 

What is loneliness?

Loneliness is the feeling we get when we don’t have the social contact, companionship or relationships we crave.

Older people are more likely to experience loneliness. Risk factors can include poor health, lower income, retiring, moving to a new area, giving up driving, becoming a carer, and losing a loved one.

Loneliness can come in waves. Certain periods like the holidays are times when people feel a high degree of loneliness. Christmas for many is a time to connect with family and friends but sadly over half a million older people are expected to spend the day alone. 

How loneliness affects people

Loneliness is claimed to be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. A major factor in alcohol abuse, it is said to be worse than obesity and physical inactivity.2 It has recently been found that loneliness increases the risk of premature death by 14 percent.3

Feeling lonely can also impact your mental health, leading to high levels of stress, lower self-esteem, sleep problems, anxiety and depression.4

With two fifths of older people claiming their main form of company is the television, a shocking forty five percent of people over the age of 75 are admitted to A&E because they are lonely and isolated.1 Around two and a half million socially isolated older people don’t know where to get help.

Top tips

Homecare workers will be working over Christmas and New Year visiting service users in their own homes. Sometimes homecare workers are an older person’s only form of company. Medacs Healthcare homecare workers find that having time for a chat can be the highlight of an older person’s day.

Here are some tips to help you support your service users this festive period.

  • Assist the individual to maintain contact with family and friends, particularly those who may have moved away.
  • Identify relevant social activities, shared interest groups and local befriending schemes which may benefit the service user.
  • For individuals who would like to meet new people and give something back to the community, they could consider volunteering opportunities for the New Year.
  • If you are concerned about the service user, do speak to their key worker.

If you would like to make a difference in your community and help individuals to live independently in their own homes contact us at or find out more here.

Sources: 1 Age UK, 2 Campaign to End Loneliness, 3 The Telegraph, 4 MIND

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