For elderly women, in particular, loneliness can be debilitating. Most have narrowed their lives to a tunnel consisting of total devotion to family and perhaps a small circle of friends.
Now in their latter years of their lives, there seems to be no one left to care for; husbands have died, the passing of time brings the sad news of another friend, acquaintance, school mate or relative having passed away.
Wilma Calvert a counsellor and community worker in The Family Life Centre’s Westbury office says new technology adds to the isolation as so few wish to engage with it. "BBT": many moan - Born Before Technology.
Their children live such busy lives and the fear of being seen as an interfering in-law or a burden emphasises the lack of support or company that the elderly so often need. Learning to use the technology helps, especially bedridden older persons, keep in touch with others.
"The days are not so bad; it's the nights that really make you realise how alone you are," says Gloria a resident of an old age complex. "What helps me get through is when I look back on the day and I feel grateful for what I have".
Practical tips for all age groups from Calvert:
1. Try to have inter-generational friendships.
2. Take an interest in hobbies or activities that involve groups.
3. Join activities that are offered free in your community.
4. Volunteer for an organisation in your community.
5. Stay physically and emotionally fit.
6. Practice gratitude.