Do you feel alone and ignored by the outer world, only because you’re older? Do you feel as if your only and last purpose in this world is to simply fade away?
Then we need to let you know that you shouldn’t feel this way.
The Happiness Group (Brighton) is a project that seeks to tackle the problem of loneliness and isolation experienced by a growing number of people.
The group will seek to deliver a variety of services, targeted in particular to the 60+ age group, with a view to promoting happiness and wellbeing as well as working to offset the onset of conditions such as dementia which can be a result of a lack of mental activity and engagement.
Types of Loneliness
Social Loneliness – experienced when we lack a wider social network or group of friends.
Emotional Loneliness – felt when we miss the companionship of one particular person; often a family member or a friend.
What loneliness can do to you
Loneliness can cause a lot of problems, be it depression or even falling victim to dementia. A lack of immobility combined with being disconnected from the outer world leads to a feeling of being ignored by others. People have access to social media, yet unfortunately many older people don’t know how to use it. As a result, they don’t leave their comfort zone and end up watching television all day long. We want to change this behaviour. Instead of waiting for others to act for them, we want to encourage older people to act for themselves. By offering them a variety of services such as the writing of poems, The Happiness Group want to give them the feeling of being a part of a community.
Benefits of the project for the elderly
- Becoming a part of a supportive community.
- Being challenged to do something creative.
- Being in contact with others.
- Enjoy opportunities to publish their own poems on the Happiness Group Facebook Page.
The importance of this issue in Brighton
The problem of loneliness is in part due to the proportion of older people declining relative to the city’s rising population, owing to an influx of mostly young people. As reported by the former Leader of the Brighton & Hove City Council, Jason Kitcat, almost a third of those living in the city (31.1%) have “irregular or no contact” with older people. He also commented on the fact that there is a large number of older people who feel isolated and have a hard time maintaining their social contact with the people around them.
Evidence for the need:
According to a Dutch study (Holwerda et al, 2012) that appeared in The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, those who suffer from loneliness have a 64% greater risk of getting dementia. In the study it was noted that the risk of suffering from dementia depends on having the feeling of loneliness and not simply the fact that someone lives alone or is socially isolated.
It is also important to know that those suffering from loneliness are to suffer from depression (Cacioppo et al, 2006). In this study it was shown, that those with less or even no friends tend to have a higher risk of suffering from depression, whilst those with social contacts don’t.
Additionally the decline of social activities that comes with old age was also shown in The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (James BD). A total of 1138 people without dementia where examined for up to 12 years. By the end of the study the results showed that more socially active older adults experience less cognitive decline in old age.