Olympics athlete Paula Radcliffe urges people to make time for the elderly

Paula Radcliffe.
Paula Radcliffe.

Using social networking sites, going for walks and joining dating websites are just a few of the ways over 65s in Derbyshire are combatting loneliness, it has been disclosed.

The study of 1,000 adults over the age of 65 by leading developer and manager of retirement communities, McCarthy and Stone, shows 53 per cent in Derbyshire often feel lonely – particularly when they are home alone.

But the majority are trying hard to overcome this and stay connected with the outside world.

Researchers discovered six in 10 retirees in Derbyshire have taken to Facebook in a bid to stay in touch with friends and family, and a further one in ten have taken to dating again.

Four in ten respondents have made a concerted effort to volunteer within the local community, while 36 per cent go out for a walk and 40 per cent listen to the radio.

A shopping spree, chatting to friends on the phone, and visiting friends or family are other ways older people try to combat loneliness.

Fiona Brooks, regional sales and marketing director for McCarthy and Stone North West, said: “Our survey shows many older people in Derbyshire are feeling lonely, but rather than doing nothing about it, the majority are being proactive in finding friendship.

“Mastering technology is just one of the ways older generations are staying in touch with people they know and love.”

The research highlighted the effects of loneliness on the older generation, with 45 per cent in Derbyshire saying being lonely makes them feel sad and 31 per cent admitting to feelings of depression.

One in four said being lonely made them feel invisible, while 31 per cent believe it affects their health.

A staggering 84 per cent of all those who are lonely have never told anyone else about this and when it comes to confiding in others 43 per cent said they don’t want to be a burden.

But a resounding 70 per cent agree a small action from others – family, friends, neighbours and those within the local community – would make all the difference to how lonely they feel.

Paula Radcliffe MBE is brand ambassador for McCarthy and Stone’s #TakesOne2018 campaign, which is aimed at getting people to pledge to undertake one small action to help combat loneliness in the older generation.

“My own Grandma was a very formidable lady”, says Paula. “When my Grandad passed away she was determined to carry on. She travelled to see me three times in the Olympic Games and World Championships. She really was an inspiration, and she would always call me if she felt a bit low.

“My Grandma however, was probably in the minority of older people who often suffer in silence, or hide how their feeling because they’re embarrassed. It is so important we all take responsibility for the older generations living around us who might need some extra support.

“I think we all have opportunities to be a bit more community-minded. Many older people aren’t sat at home alone. They’re proactive. It’s important we pay attention to them and try to meet them half way. After all, a smile can help anyone feel better no matter how old you are.”

Just under half of those polled by McCarthy and Stone said a ‘good morning’ greeting from a neighbour would help them to feel less lonely, while for 40 per cent a cheery wave from a neighbour as they walk or drive past would make a difference.

A postman or courier stopping for a chat would lift the spirits of over one in five, and 36 per cent said someone calling round to check they were okay would overcome feelings of loneliness.

Fiona Brooks said: “McCarthy and Stone is committed to enriching the lives of older people in our society; and we are urging everyone in Derbyshire to be aware of the older people living around them, and to get a little more involved in their neighbourhood from time to time. It can take one person, one moment, one action to make all the difference to someone who is feeling alone.”

Pledges can be submitted via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #takesone2018. All those who want to get involved can also tag @mccarthystone on Facebook or Twitter. Pledges can also be made via a simple online form at the McCarthy and Stone website https://www.mccarthyandstone.co.uk/life-and-living/explore/lifestyle/takesone/.