Age UK reported that more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone and more than a million of those go for over a month without speaking a family member, friend or neighbor. Becoming this socially isolated can happen for a number of different reasons such as illness, leaving the workplace, becoming older or weaker and the death of a spouse or friend. This can can easily turn into depression and cause a decline in physical health and wellbeing.

Oftentimes, someone who is lonely will find it hard to reach out. There is a stigma around loneliness and older people may not ask for the help they want because of pride. Loneliness can affect anyone of any age but here are ways for older people to help get back a feeling of appreciation and connect with others.

Invite friends round for tea

The feeling of loneliness can often make you underestimate your value to other people (oftentimes people like you a lot more than you'd think!) and think that no one would want to visit you. A great deal of the time however, family, friends and neighbors appreciate an invitation to come and spend time with you.

If you can't think of anyone to invite or simply want someone else to host, Contact the Elderly is charity that regularly holds free Sunday afternoon tea parties for anyone over the age of 75 who live alone. They will collect you from your home and drive you to a volunteer's home for the afternoon. You can either apply online by clicking here or call Contact the Elderly on 0800 716 543.

          Friends eat together

Smile and interact

Smile at others and start a conversation whenever there's a chance, so if you're stood in line at a shop, talk to someone that's next to you. If you don't know what to say, simply start by asking questions and explore the topics that come up in their answers.

          Woman smiling

Talk over the phone

Aside from being with a friend or relative, one of the best ways to speak to them is over the phone. If you don't have anyone you could phone, try contacting the Silver Line on 0800 470 8090, they offer information, advice and friendship (plus it's free to call!). 

          Elderly man holding mobile phone


Technology is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family if they live far away, a computer or tablet can be used to make video calls with them which is much more personal than ordinary phone calls because you can both see each other on your screens as if you were both with one another in person (these video chats using services like FaceTime, Viber and Skype are also free to everyone). Social media and web forums are great places to make online friends or reconnect with old ones, websites like Facebook and Twitter are excellent for this.

Tablets are especially useful if you find it hard to get around because you can simply rest it on one knee or hold it in one hand, this combined with how light they are means that oftentimes it feels like just carrying a book. You can purchase stylus pens for them or even buy a tablet that you can operate through speech in case you have poor circulation or arthritic hands. 

          Elderly man using tablet

These are just a few ways to help bring yourself out of isolation and start having a more fulfilling life with more meaningful connections with others. If you wish to find out more information on loneliness and how combat it, please click the links below:

NHS - Loneliness

Which - Causes of loneliness

Age UK - Experiences of loneliness