With an estimated 39 million users of social media at the beginning of 2017 in the UK with a penetration rate of 58%, face to face communication could be on the decline. While many enjoy the benefits of staying connected with friends and family across the world, the consequence for others is lack of face to face social integration leading to loneliness.
There are an estimated nine million people considered to be socially isolated in the UK, with the elderly being one of the groups most affected. A study in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found that people who feel lonely are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Loneliness is expected to rise by 49% in the next 10 years.
Those likely to be at risk of experiencing loneliness
The Campaign to end loneliness provides key facts to identify those likely to be at risk from loneliness, Key risk factors:
- Personal circumstances
- Personal Characteristics
- Health and Disability
- Contact with friends and family
- Getting out and about
- Living alone
Regeneration of community areas to reduce loneliness
Social interactions need to be a part and parcel of everyday routine for elderly people. Not only interacting with one another, but also with society more generally, whatever the age; these frequent bursts of engagement are essential. This is further supported by The Alzheimer’s Association, who claim that as little as ten minutes per day will develop a person’s brain function and mental health dramatically.
Constantly cultivating motor skills is one way that can, at the very least decrease the likelihood of developing the condition. Social hubs are a fantastic way of doing just this, presenting participants of all ages the opportunity to engage, learn, have fun and, of course, nurture their competitive spirit!
Giving the elderly lively and comfortable settings in which to interact will aid in the constant battle to tackle social isolation. Taking advantage of technological advancements and making room to develop new initiatives that will engage and stimulate people of all ages is also essential.
Tovertafel ™ – The Magic Table™
Dutch researcher Hester Le Riche developed the Tovertafel ™ (The Magic Table™) in collaboration with dementia care homes to create a series of games to stimulate people physically, mentally and socially.
The games consist of a series of interactive light animations projected on any table that motivate the mind and inspire those to be active. Anyone can come together and play these games in any social setting such as libraries and community centres.
For more information please visit http://shift8.co.uk
We can all do our bit to end loneliness
Awareness of loneliness in our communities should encourage all of us to spend 10 minutes of our time each day checking on neighbours, chatting to people in the street and generally interacting with the older generation more frequently.
John Ramsay, CEO & Founder of social enterprise Shift8*
Loneliness in older people https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/loneliness-in-older-people/
Number of Facebook Users by Ages in the UK: https://www.statista.com/statistics/507417/number-of-facebook-users-in-the-united-kingdom-uk-by-age-and-gender/
The effects of social isolations: https://www.ukessays.com/essays/nursing/the-effects-of-social-isolation-nursing-essay.php
Forecast number of social network users in UK: https://www.statista.com/statistics/553530/predicted-number-of-social-network-users-in-the-united-kingdom-uk/
£20million investment to tackle loneliness: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/20-million-investment-to-help-tackle-loneliness