Blog: 'Friendship calls make me so happy'
Published on 30 July 2020 07:03 AM
To mark this year’s Friendship Day - a celebration of those who make our lives brighter - we are sharing the story of Rosalind who tells us how our weekly Friendship Calls are helping her feel less alone.
When Rosalind Smith’s son read about our Age Scotland Friendship Line, he immediately thought of his mum and asked her if she would be interested in having a weekly blether with someone new.
“I said yes, I would,” says Rosalind. “I have been getting the calls for about five weeks now and I must say they are absolutely lovely.”
Rosalind, 79, lives alone in Angus since her husband passed away almost five years ago.
Since she was diagnosed with macular degeneration, her eyesight has been failing and she hasn’t been getting out and about as much as she used to.
“Even before coronavirus I didn’t go out on my own much. I’ve got macular degeneration and I don’t see very well. My son would take me shopping to the Tesco across the road,” she says.
Once coronavirus hit, Rosalind, like hundreds of thousands of older people, was confined to her house and couldn’t see her family, including son, Gary, daughter, Karen, and three grandchildren face to face.
“It was hard, especially without my husband, with everything that’s going on. We got married when I was 18, and it would have been our 60th anniversary this year. I would say in the past year I’ve been missing him more than ever.”
During lockdown Rosalind struggled with not being able to go out at all. “I’m fortunate enough to have friends and I talk to them on the phone and I could talk to my family too, when I wasn’t able to see them. But I don’t have the internet so for a while I couldn’t see people’s faces.
“Not being able to get out is hard. You feel stuck in the house and a bit cut off.
“So it’s been great to get the calls from Age Scotland. I’ve spoken to a few people – Ann, John and James. They are all absolutely lovely. I couldn’t really tell you what we talk about – just whatever is on our minds.
“It’s definitely good to have a conversation with someone outside the family. My family are great – but it’s good to communicate with different people too.
“We have quite long chats and I have always felt better after having a call.
“Everyone is so friendly and so easy to talk to. Gary says I can get on with anyone, because I love speaking, and it’s true. It makes me so happy.”
Our Age Scotland Friendship Line began as a way of helping the growing numbers of older people across the country feeling isolated and alone.
Even before coronavirus we knew that chronic loneliness is a public health epidemic. Prolonged isolation is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, it increases the risk of heart disease, anxiety, depression and developing dementia.
Before lockdown our research found 100,000 older people said they felt lonely all or most of the time. More than 200,000 said they could go half a week without a visit or call from anyone.
The effect of lockdown on older people has been profound. More older people than ever report feeling lonely and cut adrift from their family, friends and community.
Loneliness can affect anyone of any age, but many of the triggers tend to happen in later life changes such as bereavement, retirement, moving to a new areas, illness or children moving away from home.
Our Friendship Calls can be a lifeline for those who are feeling alone. Just having a chat or a friendly ear to listen can make all the difference to an older person’s day.
So if you or anyone you know fancies a weekly blether, our Friendship Line is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. It’s free to call on 0800 12 44 222. We look forward to hearing from you.
Call 03330 15 14 60 Visit age.scot/donate Text LATERLIFE to 70085 to donate £5.* * Texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message