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Loneliness strips you of confidence, a purpose and reasons to smile. Research shows that its crippling effects are not only detrimental to our mental wellbeing but to our physical health too. In fact, being lonely can be as damaging to us as obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.
Just imagine if the key to improving the health and wellbeing of the older generation was as simple as offering a smile, a friendly face and somebody to talk to. It’s not such a crazy idea – human interaction as a cure.
Taken from an evolutionary point of view, our reliance on social groups has ensured our survival as a species. Is it not the case then that loneliness is effectively a signal to connect with others, in the same way hunger is a signal we need to eat?
Loneliness isn’t the reserve of those aged over 65, as we’re vulnerable to feeling lonely at any point in our lives. A new study out last year by ChannelMum.com revealed that a staggering 70 per cent of mums with dependent children say their generation is the loneliest ever.
Close to Hand provides an opportunity to overcome loneliness for both mums with young children and older people, who can both feel shut off and unheard. Mums get to leave the house when their children are at school, find local work with a purpose and share the company of an older person who is suffering not dissimilar feelings of isolation to them.
Becoming a Home Helper provides opportunities to build meaningful relationships with older people living on your own doorstep.
Loneliness is not about the amount of time we spend with other people but about the perceived quality of the relationships that we build. We all understand how you can be in a crowded room full of people and still feel lonely.
Take time to stop, to listen (to really listen) and to make a connection – the benefits of that simple act can be far reaching and potentially contagious.