‘I have a lot to be thankful for… It’s not too bad really’
Social isolation in our rural community by Jessica Sapphire Frame
The festive period has now officially finished and we are all back into the swing of everyday life. For most people, it was an extremely exciting, busy time bursting with family, music, the clinking of glasses and eruptions of laughter.
Now, imagine, instead of noise, deafening silence, instead of sitting chatting with family and friends; sitting in a single chair... alone.
This is the case for around half a million older adults over the Christmas period (Age UK, 2018).
But, loneliness doesn’t just affect those without family nearby, as would be expected; Age UK also found that 750’000 over 65’s widowed and living alone felt more lonely around Christmas than any other time of year. Many of our older people, do in fact have supportive family nearby, yet, many can still feel socially isolated and lonely. It is this group also at-risk of negative effects because they are less likely to talk about their experiences and feelings. Understandably, they don’t want to appear ungrateful or ‘bring down the mood’ for family and community members and often downplay how they feel.
As much as visiting family and being included in the recent festivities would have been a wonderful reprieve. Returning to an empty house and back to life as usual can be a disabling and dispiriting situation for an older person.
For all of us living in our wonderful rural community, let’s remember how isolating it would be without our social network. I implore everyone reading this, to remember that sometimes the most significant gift you can give….Is your TIME! 10 minutes to have a cup of tea and a chat is not only a reprieve from social isolation, but can provide a deeper, longer-lasting feeling of love, support and community! But I’ll leave you with this last thought:
‘A social network is not just for Christmas’.
Needing others is a part of what makes us human. Circumstances can leave any one of us feeling isolated and lonely. But if it becomes a part of usual life it’s important to note that it doesn’t need to be! There are a number of services aimed at reducing social isolation and loneliness so talk to your GP or local volunteer centre (Befriending Lewis, Alzheimer Scotland etc.) for support and further information.
I am also currently looking for individuals 65 and over that live alone to talk about their experiences in an independent research project to gain insight to help to develop services that benefit all older adults living on Lewis.
If you are interested, I would love you to be apart of it and you can get in touch with me: Jessica Sapphire Frame by: