Loneliness and our elderly – small moments of connection make their absolute day
My clients range from aged 10 to 79. I feel very fond of my lovely elders that i work with, they bring me much joy – I learn so much from them. I love the courage to come into the therapy room, still willing to work on themselves and wanting to grow, learn and change, even in their 70s. They recount many facinating tales from a long history, sometimes of very difficult times. They have seen so much – what an enormous change from fighting in wars, living through true poverty, fighting for freedom and equality in the 60’s, through to now in this technological age.
From an era where vulnerability and talking about emotions was frowned upon, mental health was treated with asylums, lobotomy’s and electric shock treatment. Men had to be men’s men, stoic, never showing weakness. Women had very little rights or equality and were the home makers. People had been through wars, which almost took away what they feel is their right to moan or complain about anything.
The most heartbreaking part of what i hear, which brings me tears as i sit alongside them at times, is around loneliness for them right now in their lives, after everything they’ve already lived through. Its rife, not just for the elderly I know but there is something more fragile for someone who has lost their parents, family and friends as people reach an age around them. The ultimate life stage change. Imagine having nobody. They may not have children or its not a given they’re still in touch.
They feel invisible, like they don’t matter, they’re not important nor do they count mean in society ‘I’m just an old woman now” “who wants to listen to a silly old man like me”. They might be in relationships where they don’t feel loved but they feel stuck and too afraid of being alone to make any changes. They’re terrified of loneliness. They’ve sometimes lost mobility and confidence with it so end up super isolated.
They really look forward to sessions for the company, but also to have deep, meaningful conversations of depth about how they feel. More importantly to them is to have somewhere where they feel like they matter.
If you want to do something really wonderful, why don’t you become a volunteer befriender through Age UK? https://www.ageuk.org.uk/…/volunt…/local-services-volunteer/
Or make an effort with the elderly neighbours in your street. Pop in and have a cuppa. Ask them about their life. Or pass the information below on, spread the word about local services that mightn’t know about.
The difficulty is that unless they go out looking for it, they don’t know these services exist, unless they’re computer literate, which is very often not the case.
There are organisations out there that can help like Age UK, Herts Mind Network, The New Leaf College, Older Peoples Mental Health Services, Nightlights. There is also the Telephone Club which provides a befriending service for the elderly.
There are brilliant groups like United 3rd Age or U3A for over 50’s which have hundreds of local groups that explore a large variety of topics.
There is the Green cateen drop in sessions for those with green fingers to help grow produce to raise finds for Herts Mind Network.
There are lunch clubs and local activities https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/…/day-services-and-activit….
There are getting together clubs and activities to help you to stay active and build friendships within the local community – call 01923 216967.
Neighbours Together helps you to stay connected in the local community – call 01923 606447.
Community Cars helps you if you’re unable to use public transport due to mobility issues – call 01923 216964.
There are wonderful connecting groups like the Monday Morning Club at Soul Survivor where they will scoop you up and try and help you to make friends and create a positive supportive network of friends around you.
There is also social care support – https://www.hertsmere.gov.uk/…/Support-for-Older-People.aspx
Always let people know that they matter to you. Smile, acknowledge, let them know that you see them. Small connections make their absolute day.