Isolation is far too commonPosted on: 10 January 2013 by Lynda Shaw
Communication is key to beating isolation and loneliness says Dr Lynda Shaw.
Whilst for some Christmas was full of laughter, colour, festivities and being with their loved ones, there were others who were on their own. Or indeed after a few days of warmth with family and friends, many went home to living alone. This stark contrast may have left a feeling of emptiness greater than before. In addition, the long hours of darkness and winter chill in January and February discourages people from going out, so many spend the majority of their week at home hardly speaking to anyone.
This is exacerbated by the fact that approx 9 million people in the UK are deaf or partially hard of hearing. With about 688,000 severely or profoundly deaf. The most common cause of hearing loss is ageing, with three quarters of people who are deaf over the age of 60.
This often means that in those precious times of socialising, people who have hearing problems still feel isolated because they either didn't hear or they misinterpret what had been said and answered inappropriately. This is both embarrassing and exhausting, so very often people withdraw even more
from group situations.
Isolation and loneliness
Isolation kills people and it kills people slowly. This is a harsh reality and one that needs to be discussed in order to raise awareness. So what can be done?
On an individual level we can all pick up the phone and call someone whom we know lives alone. When we don't have the opportunity to voice our thoughts, our thinking becomes a little distorted and things can get out of proportion and we lose perspective. So just having a chat can make the world of difference.
I know a man who calls his house-bound mother-in-law daily to get the update on various sporting events. She was quite a sports woman in her youth and enjoys watching all sport on TV and the son-in-law calls her whilst driving between meetings to keep abreast of latest developments. They both enjoy this immensely.
Learn new things
Most people need something invigorating in their lives, they just need a little help to rediscover or learn new things. The community and family are pivotal here regardless of age.
This last point is important. Not many years ago it was normal for all generations to get together. Guests at family parties ranged from new born to the eldest member and there was much fun, laughter and the usual ‘family comments’ that were best not repeated! Playing music, dancing and singing were the norm regardless of talent or lack of. It’s so sad that this rarely happens these days. It would benefit everyone if young and older people socialised together more. Communication is the key to virtually everything.
Therefore, no matter what our age, let's talk to those who feel isolated and enjoy one another's company. A little can go a long way.
Dr Lynda Shaw runs an advisory service for loved one of those diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease or dementia at drlyndashaw.com
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