Info from Devon County Council:
Analysis by Bournemouth University’s Ageing and Dementia Research Centre has revealed that almost a fifth of over-75s in the UK go three months or longer with no one to share a meal with.
This can lead to health problems, including malnutrition and chronic loneliness, as well as a higher risk of developing a degenerative illness, such as dementia.
A review in 2010 by PLOS Medicine found that loneliness can be as detrimental to an older person’s health as lifelong smoking and alcoholism.
Devon has a higher than average percentage of older people in the population. Estimates suggest that between 15,000 to 19,000 over 65s in Devon experience intense loneliness; and that around 38,000 experience mild loneliness
The county does, however, have strong and active local communities, and lots of opportunities for people to look out for elderly neighbours and friends.
Devon County Council, the NHS and local voluntary organisations, have launched a website to help celebrate community activity, and that encourages people to get involved with volunteering and being engaged members of society.
The Show You Care website suggests different things that people can do; from small acts of kindness through to community projects.
Councillor Roger Croad is the Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for communities. He said:
“Devon is a large rural county with many small communities and residents who live on their own. Loneliness though is not the reserve of people in rural communities, it’s also very real to people living in urban areas too. Lots of people do already give their time voluntarily to support local community groups and projects, but we think more people are able to.
“If you have time that you could give in order to help others in your community, whether it’s as little as an hour or more, then please consider opportunities to do so.”
To find out more about things that you can do to make your community a better place to live, visit the Show You Care website. There you will find information about opportunities including Befriending, with links to an online directory of voluntary and statutory services in your area. To find local Befriending opportunities, visit the Pinpoint website.