In an age when society is more connected than ever, where people live longer and most can drive, why should there still be a need for services like ours? People can be lonely and isolated for a whole host of reasons, and now key lobbying and activist groups such as Campaign to End Loneliness have backed research claiming that loneliness is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Plus, the Government has recognised to tackle the epidemic at parliamentary level by appointing a Minister for Loneliness.
Here are some of the reasons that our CareLink friends rely on us:
FAMILY: Family members may become spread out geographically, work in demanding jobs, or even have young families of their own which makes finding time for others outside of the home, difficult. Sadly, it’s not unknown that family relationships have become estranged or even abusive. Some simply have no surviving family members to call on.
PHYSICAL HEALTH: Poor health can mean that people aren’t as mobile as they once were, become unsteady on their feet or don’t like to leave home for too long because they need to be close to a bathroom. As well as the physical limitations of poor health, there is also the worry that they will become ill or ‘caught short’. This can lead to people becoming more housebound as they lose the confidence to be away from their home.
MENTAL HEALTH: Depression and isolation are a vicious cycle. The more isolated a person becomes the more depressed they will become, and the less inclined to put on a happy face to go out in public and socialise. Dealing with serious depression and loneliness is more than just a case of ‘pulling yourself together’, and for older people, it can be very difficult to overcome with an often reduced network of support.
FINANCES: Older people can be subject to revocation of a driving license due to poor eyesight or slowing reaction times. This loss of independence is made worse by the cost of taxis or the lack of affordable and reliable public transport. People often only justify the expense of getting around when they have a medical appointment to attend.
ROLES AS A CARER: As people age, they are more likely to fall into the role of unpaid, full-time carer, for an elderly relative or partner. Their life becomes restricted to the same limitations as their frail charge. Often in these circumstances their life is overtaken with an endless cycle of appointments and visits, related solely to the person they care for. Every conversation is with a healthcare professional and revolves around the well-being of somebody else. It is easy to see why people in this situation struggle to find time for their own welfare.
TECHNOLOGICAL RESTRICTIONS: We live in a world where most information is now accessed purely online. For the older generations of today, they often lack the skill and the equipment to be able to do this.