Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely our own and not necessarily those of our employer or any other occupational therapist.

Monday, 9 March 2015

The Day the Loneliness came....

I saw this article in one of the Sunday papers a few months ago now (October 2014) - it moved me then as it still does. It  featured Bob, a widower who had written a poem to his wife of 65 years.The article states:
This week it emerged that the number of men like Bob, who have outlived their wives and live alone, is growing. According to a report, the figure is set to rise by 65 per cent in the next 15 years, from 911,000 to 1.5 million by 2030.
Men often feel loneliness more acutely than widows, as they tend to be more socially isolated. Nearly a quarter of older men have contact with their children less than once a month, compared with 15 per cent of older women.
For Bob, however, the problem is not remoteness from his loved ones. He has two attentive daughters, Linda, 67, in Gloucestershire and Martine, 56, in Surrey; a son Robert, 65, in Australia; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Those he does not see regularly, he speaks to via the internet.
His daily life is productive and busy. He is a tireless fundraiser, a steadfast volunteer; a devoted father and friend. It is simply the absence of Kath that troubles him. For when he closes the door of his bungalow near the New Forest in Hampshire, there is no remission from the loneliness. He still talks to Kath, but now there are no answers.

Clearly Bob still has roles and occupations that he engages with- but his roles of husband, friend, carer and his co-occupations with his wife have all been taken away. Our very own Dr Tracy Collins here at UoS has done work on the transition into widowhood and the impact on occupations, routines and roles. As we continue to become an ageing population this issue needs to be more understood and considered by health and social care practitioners and occupational therapists are best placed to work with these issues - as The Guardian recently explained in their supplement dedicated to our professional roles.

A new charity - The Silver Line has also been set up to help in these areas. They introduce themselves on their website as follows:
In August 2011, Dame Esther Rantzen DBE (who founded the children’s helpline ChildLine in 1986), wrote an article about the loneliness she has experienced since being bereaved, and living alone. She was overwhelmed by the huge response from older people who shared her experience. In November 2011 she was invited to make a key-note speech at a conference at which she came up with the idea of creating a helpline in order to support vulnerable older people, sign-post them to projects and services, break through the stigma of loneliness and isolation, and tackle the problems of abuse and neglect.

The Silver Line Helpline provides three functions to support older people:
•  a sign-posting service to link them into the many, varied services that exist around the country
•  a befriending service to combat loneliness
• a means of empowering those who may be suffering abuse and neglect, if appropriate to transfer them to specialist services to protect them from harm

and they ask us all to get involved in any small way we are able to:
  • Volunteer with us.  Whether you can offer a few hours or a regular amount of time, we would be pleased to hear from you.
  • Get your company to partner with us.
  • Support us through a trust or foundation
  • Fundraise in your local community
  • Take part in a sporting event or challenge
  • Donate – online, by post, by text
  • Shop with one of our online partners
  • Recycle unwanted items
  • Sign up to receive our newsletter
  • Follow us on Twitter or Facebook, then share our posts with others

Maybe it's worth taking a visit to their site? I've been considering becoming a volunteer - just need to sort it out - anyone else doing the same?

1 comment:

Apu Mridha said...

Thanks for sharing such an amazing and informative post. really enjoyed reading it.


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