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What you can do if you are lonely, or care for someone who is

Why it's important to tackle loneliness

No one should feel they have no one to turn to, but we also know loneliness can have a big impact on our mental and physical health.

Over recent years there has been growing public attention to loneliness in our communities and this has been accompanied by a shift in our understanding of its impact. We now know that, for example, the effect of loneliness and isolation can be as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is more damaging than obesity. It is associated with depression, sleep problems, impaired cognitive health, heightened vascular resistance, hypertension, psychological stress and mental health problems.

How to spot loneliness in someone you care for

There are 1.2m chronically lonely older people in the UK, so it's likely we all know or care about someone who feels lonely. But it's not always easy to spot the signs. Some clues could include the person:

  • having a significant change in their routine (e.g. getting up a lot later)
  • neglecting their appearance or personal hygiene
  • complaining of feeling worthless
  • not eating properly.

You should also consider if the person you care about has had a change in their circumstances that could have caused their loneliness, such as:

  • losing a loved one
  • moving away from friends and family
  • losing the social contact and enjoyment they used to get from work
  • experiencing health problems that make it difficult for them to go out and do the things they enjoy.

As loneliness is such a deeply personal experience, you may spot signs they are lonely before the person you care about does or before they are able to talk about it. It's also important to remember that someone can still feel lonely despite being surrounded by friends and family.

Services that can tackle loneliness

Local Age Cymru organisations may be aware of social activities offered in your area; or contact our national Age Cymru Advice line.

Age UK's Call in Time service - this involves a free weekly telephone call from a volunteer for up to 30 minutes. The service matches older people with a friendly volunteer who shares similar interests and hobbies.

RNIB’s telephone book club - if you have sight loss, you can join this club and talk to up to eight people on a monthly call.

Contact the Elderly hold monthly afternoon tea parties for people aged over 75 who live on their own with little or no chance to socialise.

volunteering with Age Cymru - If you're missing the social connections you used to have through work, you could consider volunteering.

Volunteering Wales.

University of the Third Age (U3A) - you could look into classes provided by U3A.

Project 360° - If you are 65 or over and have been a member of the UK armed services, reservists, or seen active service in the merchant navy, Project 360° may be aware services or groups where you can meet others with a similar background.

physical activity programmes - Age Cymru run a number of these programmes that can help improve your health and wellbeing.

For more information call Age Cymru Advice on 08000 223 444

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