Loneliness And How To Combat It
Loneliness is one of the biggest afflictions of the modern day world. Age UK have estimated that more than two million people in the UK will be classed as ‘lonely’ by the year 2025. Many of these fall into the over 50’s age category. This figure makes scary reading as it is increasing all the time and shows no sign of slowing down. These statistics are so worrying that the UK government have been looking into strategies to help combat the issue of loneliness. So, in 2018 the Prime Minister confirmed that all G.P’s in England would be able to refer patients experiencing loneliness to community services and activities by 2023.
So why is loneliness such an issue for the over 50’s? There are many reasons why this age group are particularly at risk, with many of them being completely unavoidable.
- Bereavement – People over the age of 50 are more likely to have suffered the loss of a loved one, usually a spouse.
- Following retirement from work, a person loses social contact with work colleagues.
- Nowadays families tend to be spread out geographically. Close knit families living in the same town happens far less frequent than it used to.
- The over 50’s experience more health issues related to age and this can make them feel isolated as they deal with a decline in health.
- The need to downsize due to changes in finances can prompt a house move to another area. This can result in a loss of well loved neighbours and friends.
Loneliness is associated with subsequent health problems including depression, insomnia, hypertension, anxiety, lack of self esteem and self confidence and other mental health issues. It is no surprise that loneliness can also trigger physical health issues as the link between mental and physical problems is well documented.
The threat of loneliness can affect us all at any time, so what can we do to alleviate the feeling of loneliness? Firstly it is important to remember that being alone doesn’t always mean a person is lonely. Personally I enjoy my own space for a while, where I can read without the distraction of another person. Loneliness creeps into our lives when we are alone for too long and we have no outside interests to allow contact with other people.
So, my biggest piece of advice I can give to reduce the feeling of loneliness is to get out of your home and look for other activities involving people. While our homes are comfortable and familiar, they can actually increase the feeling of loneliness if we refuse to leave the house. Isolation is the biggest factor for triggering loneliness, so leave the house and find a social activity.
There are so many community groups and activities outside of the house. It really is a matter of searching for something that interests you. I know how difficult it can be at first to join a new group or club but remember everyone had to start somewhere as a newbie.
This blog post was written after discussions with my local David Lloyd Club who are dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the over 50’s age group. David Lloyd Clubs are, in fact driven to helping and supporting the over 50’s in their quest to improve both mental and physical health. Loneliness was a topic for discussion as it is well documented that the over 50’s often really struggle with this.
So, how can a David Lloyd Club help you tackle the feelings of loneliness? I write from experience here. As someone who works from home, it is very easy to become isolated and lonely. I use the David Lloyd Club myself as a way of combating feelings of isolation.
The Club provides a ready made group of like minded people so it is easy to ‘fit in.’ As people are there for a common purpose (i.e. to improve one’s health) making friends comes naturally and is never forced. In my experience of the David Lloyd Club in Harrogate and others I have visited, I have found the staff and members to be so friendly and welcoming. This is regardless of age or fitness ability. The Club has a lovely cross section of members who are genuinely helpful and kind.
I know the ‘older’ generation (me included) worry that a gym will be full of young, athletic, slim people and so we will feel awkward. Trust me, this honestly is not the case at the David Lloyd Club. I have never felt inadequate or awkward in the Club, whether I am in a fitness class or in the gym.
The wide variety of classes, training sessions and fitness routines means there really is something for every age and ability. If you are new to exercise please don’t worry. Why not start with a gentle yoga class to ease you into exercise? Yoga is wonderful for all ages, but it is especially good for the over 50’s to help with improving mobility and flexibility.
Personally I love tennis for exercise but also for meeting others. Tennis is a great sociable sport as well as providing you with a fabulous all round workout. David Lloyd Clubs have the best tennis facilities I have ever seen and as the courts are indoors, you can play at any time of the year. If your tennis is a bit rusty, the Club have friendly, well qualified tennis coaches who will help you get back into the swing of it.
Finally, one of the best ways to combat loneliness and to socialise is to sit down and have a drink or a meal with others. I always find that relaxing over a coffee is one of the best ways to make friends. Everyone enjoys the chilled out atmosphere of a cafe and so this helps to induce feelings of friendship and camaraderie.
I have found in my time spent at David Lloyd Club that there is a great team spirit among the members and the staff. I am always astounded that the staff remember my name when I visit the Club. This makes me feel like a valued person which in turn boosts my self esteem and self worth. People who are lonely feel like they are invisible in the world. So friendly staff who really take the time to know their members is priceless to someone who is feeling isolated and uncared for.
On a personal note, being a member of the David Lloyd Club in Harrogate is more than just being a member of a gym. I feel like I belong to a family, someone who is valued, someone whose uniqueness is appreciated. As someone who has suffered from loneliness, I know that a visit to the Club is enough to raise my spirits, engage with others and interact with friends. This is truly priceless.
For more information on the David Lloyd Club in Harrogate please click here. If you want to know more about what the Club can offer you, please call them and arrange to visit and who knows, I may see you there relaxing in the cafe with a coffee.
Until next time dear friends
** This post was sponsored by David Lloyd Club in Harrogate but the words and thoughts are genuinely my own**