Posted on Jul 30, 2020, 5 p.m.
According to a recent British study an alarming number of home bodied seniors go entire weeks without talking to another person as just part of their everyday lives. The study sheds some light on this sad but true effect of aging, noting that hundreds of thousands of elderly people often go multiple days without speaking to a single person.
Most people tend to slow down as they age, but for some they also slow down socially as well as physically, and some slow down so much that some home bodied seniors can go days to weeks with little to no human interaction at all.
The survey of 1.896 seniors aged 65+ living in the UK reports that over 1 in 5 elderly will have a conversation with no more than just 3 people over the span of an entire week. That is 22% of the respondents in this survey, which translates into nearly 2.6 million elderly in the UK who do not get to enjoy regular human contact on a daily basis, to add to this an alarming 225,000 individuals will go a full week without talking to another person face to face, according to the report.
Many of us may take for granted that passing hello from another person as just part of everyday life, but these latest figures are showing that hundreds of thousands of elderly in the UK will spend today and the rest of this week alone, or perhaps even longer alone, these people do not even have one person to share a few simple words with says Caroline Abrahams who is the charity director at Age UK which helped to commission this research in partnership with Cadbury.
38% of the seniors in this study reported feeling lonely at times as they have aged, with 12% reporting that loneliness has kept them from leaving their homes; loneliness has been shown to affect health, well being, and how one views themselves to make one feel unwanted and unimportant.
“Loneliness is a huge problem because retirement, bereavement and ill health mean many older people find they are spending a lot less time enjoying the company of others than they’d like,” says Abrahams. “Loneliness can affect your health, your wellbeing and the way you see yourself – it can make you feel invisible and forgotten.”
40% of the seniors in this report say that they would feel more confident to head out each day if they knew their neighbors. Even just the thought of someone stopping to have a quick friendly chat in passing with them brightens the outlook of these seniors with 54% reporting that even a short conversation would greatly improve their overall day. One quarter of the seniors report that it makes them feel good when someone simply smiles at them or acknowledges them while they are waiting in line; and 1 in 5 report that they would be just thrilled if someone stopped to ask them how they were doing or how their day had gone.
Another survey of 2,000 people between the ages of 16-45 in the UK showed that 55% of the younger people worry about being lonely in their elderhood, and with that in mind two thirds reported that they are willing to do something to help boost the confidence of a lonely home bodied senior. However, 37% worry that their gesture will not be well received, another 33% feel too shy to start a conversation with a senior, 27% report that they are not sure how to help, and one quarter report that they are too busy themselves to help.
Cadbury and Age UK have recently launched a campaign called “Donate Your Words” in an effort to help in this area to cheer up lonely seniors. This campaign was designed to encourage people to help fight loneliness by pledging to stop and chat with elders in their communities. Humans are social by nature, it is inbred into all of us, what a lovely idea. To find out more about this campaign click here.
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