When life doesn't go to plan
"I have two children and two granddaughters, but I don’t see them nearly as much as I’d like to. My daughter lives down in London and my son lives nearby, but he has health issues that stop us from seeing each other very often. When he became very ill, we even stopped talking on the phone because it was too hard for him to breathe. That was when I realised I’d gone five weeks without speaking to anyone at all.
Loneliness, to me, is no one to talk to, no one to laugh with. I have a lot of health conditions and, when you’re on your own, that can make you feel isolated and desperate. There’s only you to do the housework and sort out any problems. There are some things I just can’t do, no matter how hard I try – and that’s difficult to accept. I still feel 16 inside, but my body certainly doesn’t!"
Taking the first step
"My mental health worker referred me to Independent Age and, honestly, it was like opening a lock. Suddenly there was someone I could call and say, ‘I’ve got a problem. How do I solve this?’
This summer, I joined a Good to Know telephone group. There are six to eight of us each week and we’re all in the same situation – feeling lonely and isolated. The group gives us all a chance to talk.
Every week we learn about a new topic: one week it might be how to practise good sleeping habits, and the next it’s learning about poetry. I love the exercises we’re given, too. It’s like someone has given you permission to just sit and read a poem or to try writing some poetry of your own. After that session, I decided I would dedicate an hour a week to creative writing."
"When you’re on your own, small things can escalate and you feel like you’re the only one struggling. That’s where Independent Age comes in. The weekly calls are just like having a group of friends around to your house. We catch up on each other's news, talk about our grandchildren and swap stories. And there’s usually a lot of laughter going on. The calls really break up the week, and the different exercises really help my mental health.
Would I be the same person I am now without Independent Age? I don’t think I would. They’ve helped me in so many ways – forming friendships, giving me financial advice and helping me access support I had no idea existed."
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"Would I be the same person I am now without Independent Age? I don’t think I would. They’ve helped me in so many ways – forming friendships, giving me financial advice and helping me access support I had no idea existed."
Fiona, Independent Age service user