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29 July 2016

Tackling loneliness together

Loneliness is sadly something that affects many older people in the UK.

A study by Independent Age estimates that severe loneliness in England affects the lives of 700,000 men and 1.1m women over 50. And its prevalence across all age groups has even led to Britain being labelled ‘the loneliness capital of Europe’ by some researchers.

Statistics from Age UK reveal that 23% of people aged 75+ who live alone do not see or speak with someone every day, with the charity also reporting on the hugely negative impact that loneliness has on physical health, mental health, wellbeing and maintaining independence.

So what is being done to tackle loneliness?

Esther Rantzen MBE is one high profile campaigner who has been working hard to highlight the issue, as well as looking at ways to help individuals who are struggling with it. Following the death of her husband and her own experience of loneliness, Esther went on to found The Silver Line, a national helpline offering support to vulnerable older people, signposting projects and services, and aiming to break through the stigma of loneliness and isolation.

Many other charities and support groups are also pioneering companionship schemes on a local level that aim to help build networks, while encouraging everyone to look out for those people living near them who may be feeling isolated.

Ageing creatively

Another area that has been shown to help combat loneliness is arts and culture. Activity of this nature has been found to help improve health, wellbeing and quality of life for older people.

In a survey of people aged 65 and over by the Arts Council, almost 60% said arts and culture was important for making them feel healthy and for encouraging them to get out and about, 57% said that it was important for helping them to meet other people, and over half said it was important in helping them to feel less alone.

As a result, the Arts Council has launched a new funds that will focus on improving access to arts and culture for older people. The ‘Celebrating Age’ fund is designed to support organisations to become open, positive and welcoming places for older people. As well as taking arts and culture into places where older people will find it easier to engage.

Art Therapy at SweetTree

Providing companionship and supporting individuals to stay socially active, stimulated and to pursue the activities and hobbies they are passionate about is a key part of the care we provide at SweetTree. Whether that’s music, theatre, art, dance, literature, or crafts.

Our care team works closely with each client to find out what their personal preferences and interests are, before looking for opportunities to build on these individual passions. They will then provide the support that is needed to access and continue with them.

We are always looking for ways to enhance and expand our care services and that has also seen the introduction of an Arts Therapist to the team.

Art therapy is a form of expressive psychotherapy that uses the act of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It has been shown to have many benefits, including reducing feelings of isolation. For more details about Art Therapy and its benefits, see our blog ‘Art Therapy: Improving quality of life for those with dementia’.

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