- There are many factors that influence feelings of loneliness, including sociability, other qualities, and lifestyle.
- That being said, loneliness does not discriminate—it affects every single one of us, though the youth and the elderly are particularly susceptible to these feelings.
- Technology and the fast pace of today’s life also have significant effects on feelings of loneliness, as we’re all working hard to keep up.
- Fortunately, we’re all capable of fighting back against loneliness: and spending time with others, such as by partaking in support groups, is key.
- It all comes down to addressing those feelings and getting the help we need so that they don’t worsen down the road.
We all feel lonely at one time or another. It’s a common feeling that happens to people of any age. Factors including social activity, personality, attitudes and lifestyle all serve to influence situations of loneliness, while the impact of these influences is felt differently from person to person.
Age UK, the largest charity working with older people, revealed that the number of chronically lonely people was over 1 million in 2017 and is expected to grow reaching 2.8 million by the year of 2028. This worrying news is directly related to the condition of depression, which is currently affecting over 350 million people worldwide. There are probably members of your family, friends and colleagues who feel lonely on a regular basis.
What Is Loneliness?
Loneliness is not only a feeling of sadness or isolation, but also includes things such as social rejection and seclusion. Loneliness can both result in and exacerbate conditions such as anxiety, addiction and depression. It often manifests in symptoms such as loss of sleep, higher stress levels and even cognitive impairment. When left untreated, loneliness can even suppress immune system functioning and contribute to the development of physical and psychological sickness.
The Role of Technology
One factor that strongly influences loneliness today is technology. Although technology makes it easy to communicate across distance, it also gives us an excuse to diminish the importance of spending time together and partaking in social activities that foster real relationships. In fact, research shows that youth today are lonelier than ever.
Another demographic that is especially vulnerable to loneliness is the elderly. The world is rapidly changing as technology evolves and in contrast to young people who prefer to share social anecdotes and express themselves online, older people often have difficulty adapting to new technologies or refuse to do so, which intensifies communication barriers.
The Fast Pace of Life
The fast pace of life today is another factor that increases loneliness. Young working adults are caught up in the race of making money and working hard to climb the corporate ladder, while families are kept busy with balancing busy work loads and school activities. The elderly are often isolated and feel left out of the busy lives of family members and friends.
How to Fight Loneliness
Fortunately, there have been numerous initiatives and campaigns to help people regain a sense of community and belonging, even to the point where it categorically improves the quality of life. The Campaign to End Loneliness UK, founded in 2012, has the mission to raise awareness by creating a network capable of tackling loneliness and isolation. The methods used to address the most important needs of the elderly and create a safe environment for their desires and requests to take action.
A framework of services including entertainment is provided to ease loneliness through home visits during which the elderly receive understanding and support. Mobility is also important and in this sense, transport services are provided both for those who cannot travel by means of public transport and for those who request this service because they are aware of the direct benefits.
Participating in support groups and communities is another way to battle loneliness, regardless of age. Young working adults, families, and the elderly alike can explore local groups that offer counselling and support for those in need. The services often rely on volunteers so if you are fortunate enough to feel a sense of belonging in your community, consider joining a support group to help others fight off loneliness and isolation. If you are wary of joining a group or not yet prepared to share your feelings, here are 50 science-backed tips that you can incorporate easily into your daily life to feel less lonely.
Loneliness does not discriminate: even those with busy social lives and great familial relationships can feel lonely at times. Acknowledge feelings of loneliness and address them to avoid further emotional stress and trauma that could intensify over time.
*Emma is part of the community team at Greenwood Homecare who provide a range of high quality care services. Emma is passionate about improving the quality of care that elderly people receive in the UK and around the world.*