At Independent Age, we’re always deeply saddened by the number of older people who spend Christmas alone (around half a million older people according to Age UK stats). Over the festive season, Silver Line, the helpline offering a listening ear to older people suffering from loneliness, reported it was inundated with calls – including around 1,000 calls on Christmas Day.
As we’re all thinking about our own goals and determinations for 2014, perhaps the best resolution we can make this year is to make someone less lonely. Loneliness poses a serious risk to health – not just to our mental health - but it can have a very real, and serious, impact on our physical health too.
There are a huge number of ways to reach out to a lonely older person near you. At Independent Age, we run a one-to-one befriending service, which is reliant on our volunteer network, which gets out to the homes of the thousands of older people we support. If you would like to find out more about making a difference to the life of an older person this year, visit the volunteering section of our website here
You may find that it’s not just the older person who benefits – getting to know someone, perhaps of a different generation, who can share their life stories, may make you happier too.
One lady that we’re guessing isn’t feeling lonely is 99-year-old Margaret Rigby, who was this week recognised as the country’s longest serving member of the Girl Guides, and who even continued her 86-year service throughout the Second World War. Mrs Rigby, from Chorley, Lancashire, has just received a British Medal Empire in the New Year’s Honours List for her efforts.
“I have been involved with the Girl Guides continuously for 86 years, I’ve never stopped or taken a break, because I love everything about it,” Mrs Rigby said in the Mail Online. “There’s nothing like it for teaching you valuable life skills that you just wouldn’t learn anywhere else, and it’s still very much part of who I am.”