Loneliness and social isolation can affect people throughout their life but the elderly are particularly vulnerable due to changes associated with aging. Loneliness can be thought of as the difference between the actual number and quality of relationships people have and the ideal situation they would like to be in, while social isolation is objectively based on the number of contacts in a person’s life.
For example, a person can be socially isolated but not think themselves lonely because they have a close circle of a few friends or family members they can depend on. Dr. Deborah Morgan looks at the various ways loneliness impacts older people’s lives. She has recently become the first academic curator for loneliness – an initiative by Social Care Wales.
There is a wide variation in the experience of loneliness and social isolation in later life. Bereavement, poor health, and retirement can all increase the risk of an older person feeling lonely or losing contact with friends and colleagues. In 2018 the Welsh Government committed to developing a national wide strategy to combat loneliness. You can follow Deborah’s work on Twitter @Deborah08765276 and for more information on loneliness please see the recent Wales this Week programme ‘When Lonely comes to call’ or watch Deborah give a TEDX talk on Loneliness.
You can also find resources at Ageing well in Wales