Earlier this year the British Red Cross supported Barbara in Paignton, Devon. She has mobility limitations that meant she could no longer leave the house. She had to give up work, her routine, and seeing friends and family. She completely lost her independence. This is why tackling loneliness and social isolation through our partnership with the Co-op is so important. Because people like Barbara are not alone.
Yet, many of us are left in the immediate care of a male partner who, quite frankly, will have not a clue about what we have been through. Neither of us may be familiar with the intimate and relentlessness of caring for a tiny babe. We may be struggling to breastfeed. We may well be carrying physical and/or emotional wounds from labour.
Loneliness is not an illness. Like dehydration or hunger it is the body's call for something crucial it lacks, though like an illness it can be debilitating to an individual, stripping them of their happiness and self esteem, not to mention potentially dangerous physical symptoms, such as high blood pressure. It is recognised and certifiably dangerous, and loneliness isn't nearly as talked about as it should be.
Finally, as individuals, we can attempt to tackle the issues of adaption and comparison directly. We can try to avoid comparing ourselves to others, and try to adapt to negative things quickly while staying appreciative of positive things. But governments can't do this for us. Or can they? Possibly through education, but I think I'll tackle that another time.
Every year, sci-fi blockbusters offer various perspectives of the future of the human race. As familiar yellow lettering soars across star-filled skies once again, more than just the force should be awakening. Science fiction works such as The Illustrated Man and WALL-E have provided stark projections of the future, and we may be carelessly heading straight for them.
What I am saying is try your best to talk to someone, but also don't not talk to anyone. Otherwise, you'll end up feeling worse. I want to say that I wish I had talked about my personal problems earlier in order to get rid of this burden before it got worse - but how can I regret something that is immensely difficult to do?
Loneliness has a severe impact on an older person's quality of life and leads to illnesses such as depression and a deterioration of cognitive ability. It is said that loneliness and isolation have a greater effect on mortality than other risk factors such as obesity, and are just as bad for your health as smoking.
On Monday I returned from a 10-night holiday in Crete and I found it to be a pretty life-changing experience. Not for the endless sunshine and cocktails, or for the beautiful sunsets. Not even for the many stray cats that I managed to feed during my trip. It was life-changing because I met an elderly chap called Ken.