A Mendip GP has got individuals and organisations together to see how we can try to help end loneliness in Mendip.
“Loneliness is a widespread and largely hidden problem but is the root of much personal misery as well as being linked to poor mental and physical health. Recognising this as a growing issue in Mendip, a number of organisations have agreed to work collectively to highlight the issue and reduce loneliness wherever possible. This website developed by Health Connections Mendip aims to bring together as many contacts and as possible into one place so that anybody can find details of local resources and volunteering opportunities so we can all help in the fight against loneliness in our communities.”
Dr Geoff Sharp
We are trying to get as many people in Mendip as possible to pledge an action. We may not have the answer but together we can make a difference. Click on the ‘Pledge and Action’ page to see the organisations involved so far.
We also have a list of the services that might be useful for older people who might be lonely – please pass this on to people who may find it useful.
You will also find a list of volunteering opportunities for services that support older people who might be isolated. Please pass this on to people who want to volunteer some time.
The Mendip LIG (Local Implementation Group) has set this website up to try to help End Loneliness in Mendip in association with The Campaign to End Loneliness. You can find further details at www.campaigntoendloneliness.org. The views expressed on this website may not necessarily be the views of the Campaign to End Loneliness’.
Social Isolation and Loneliness
Social isolation and loneliness are key factors contributing to health and wellbeing, of older people in particular. The rising older population means more individuals are experiencing loneliness. This is particularly relevant to Somerset with its relatively high proportion of older people.
Key Facts for Somerset
- 33,500 people in Somerset aged 65 or older live on their own (1 in 7 households) (2011 Census)
- 1 in 5 Somerset residents aged 65 or more have no access to car or van. The proportion is even higher in some rural towns and villages and amongst women. (2011 Census)
- More than 1 in 5 (22%) social care users in Somerset said they had insufficient social contact and/or felt socially isolated. (Somerset Adult social care user survey 2013/14)
Impact of Loneliness
Research has shown how loneliness can affect both mental and physical health and wellbeing:
- The effect of loneliness and isolation can be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is more damaging than obesity
- Lonely individuals are at higher risk of the onset of disability
- Loneliness can put individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline. One study concluded that lonely people have a 64% increased chance of developing dementia (Holwerda et al, 2012)
- The oldest, most vulnerable people are at a greater risk of social isolation and loneliness due to reduced physical activity levels, sensory loss, cognitive decline and likelihood of increasing frailty
- Those who report being lonely are 7 times more likely to have low life satisfaction and twice as likely to feel anxiety (Opinions and Lifestyle Survey,ONS)
- People aged 80 or older are more likely to feel lonely than younger people, being relatively prone to experiencing multiple risk factors.
- Nationally, almost half of those aged 80 and over say they are lonely at least some of the time, and one in six are lonely ‘often’ (English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) 2009-10)
- 1 in 8 people aged 65 or older say they feel cut off from society (TNS Survey for Age UK 2014).