Loneliness and Isolation in the Community.
At the recent Provincial Almoners Meeting held in Tovil on the 1st October 2019, the assembled Almoners and Brethren, including our Provincial Grand Master and other members of the Provincial Executive, were given a presentation by Ruth Lowe, National Manager – Call in Time of Age UK.
The Masonic Charitable Foundation is working closely with Age (UK ) to combat this ever increasing problem in our communities.
There are said to be 1.2m chronically lonely older people in the UK, and probably a considerable number of Freemasons and their widows are included in this figure.
Through regular home visits and telephone contact Almoners and other Brethren are able to pick up on the signs of loneliness and contribute to alleviating it.
Several studies have identified a range of factors associated with being lonely in old age. They include :-
- Change or decline in social networks e.g. living alone, being widowed or divorced, lack of or losing contact with friends etc.
- Location e.g. structures of buildings and streets, availability of public transport services, area boundaries or reputation and location of residency.
- Change or decline in health.
- Retirement or loss of employment.
- Individual characteristics, e.g. age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, employment and financial status.
Loneliness is not always obvious to spot, but when speaking with someone there are some clues that you can look out for to help identify whether somebody is feeling lonely, such as :-
- A significant change to their daily routine.
- Neglected appearance or personal hygiene.
- Feelings of worthlessness.
- Sudden loss of appetite or weight.
- Loss of a companion or friend.
If you suspect someone you know may be dealing with loneliness you can help them by :-
- Frequent contact and visits
- Encouragement and support in making new social connections or facilitating access to services designed to tackle loneliness
- Patience; your actions may be misunderstood at first, particularly if loneliness is a result of physical or mental ill health.
Support offered by Age UK includes :–
- a befriending service which can connect somebody with a volunteer who can visit or call on the phone – ageuk.org/get-involved/social-groups/friendship-centres/.
- local friendship groups – ageuk.org.uk/get-involved/social-groups/friendship-centres/.