Pets Against Loneliness: Canines, Cake & Conversation!

One of the 8 main themes of a WHO Age-friendly City is “Social & Community Participation”. There are many activities and campaigns that fall under this heading, but they all have a common goal: ensuring that older citizens are able to actively participate in their society.

Lyn Ambrose, Founder of Pets Against Loneliness, tells us how canine companionship is helping to reduce social isolation in North London and how you can get involved.

Countdown to Silver Sunday!

“Silver Sunday exists to help tackle loneliness, but the day itself is all about celebrating older people and their vast contribution to society – so don’t forget to have fun, enjoy making new friends, and take lots of photos! Videos and photographs are wonderful memories to look back on, and we love sharing them on social media (use our hashtag #SilverSundayUK). This really encourages others to take part and make Silver Sunday even bigger next year!”

The countdown to Silver Sunday – the national day to celebrate older people & tackle loneliness – has begun and 2019 is set to be the biggest celebration yet! Lucinda Hurrey explains how you can get involved…

Television and mental health

The Importance of Television for our Mental Health

“The UK has an ageing population. By 2030, one in five people in the UK (21.8%) will be aged 65 or over, 6.8% will be aged 75+ and 3.2% will be aged 85+. As many as 49% of older people (equivalent to over 5 million individuals) say their television or pets are their main form of company. Televison’s importance really can’t be exaggerated, especially for these people who, as they age, are increasingly likely to suffer loneliness, bereavement, illness and disability. TV doesn’t cure these struggles, but it can make them easier to live with.”

With the debate over the free TV licence for over-75s continuing to rage, we hear from Jolie Goodman about the importance of television for our mental health – especially as we age.

TV Licence

Saving the Free TV Licence

“When mobility issues mean you struggle to get out and about, the TV helps you stay connected. When money is a constant worry, it’s a way to escape. And when you spend your days alone, it gives you something to rely on, something to look forward to. For over a million of the oldest people in our society, TV is their main form of company. It’s not just ‘the box in the corner’, it’s a window to the world, and a human voice when they’ve not spoken to another person in days.”

Following the news that the BBC plans to means test the TV licence for the over 75s, we explain why the free TV licence is such a valuable resource and why means testing isn’t as fair as you might think.

Healthy streets

Building Healthy Streets in London

“So what does this look like in practice? There isn’t one template for what makes a healthy street but common approaches now being taken across London include reducing traffic speeds, installing pedestrian crossings, widening pavements and, increasingly, closing residential streets to motor traffic. On larger roads and at dangerous junctions it also means segregating cyclists from traffic with protected lanes and facilities.”

Will Norman, Walking & Cycling Commissioner at the Greater London Authority explains how the Healthy Streets initiative will help make London safer for cyclists and pedestrians alike.

Ageing without children in hospital.

Ageing Without Children in Hospital

“The stories of those without family in hospital are rarely heard, rarely actively sought out. In almost all cases complaints about treatment are raised by family members, if you don’t have a family, there is no one to raise complaints. An older person, ill, isolated and worried in hospital with little or no external visitors is not likely to “make a fuss”. As far as we know there has been no research targeted at finding out about the experiences of people ageing without children in hospital.”

We accept without question that if an older person requires treatment, it is undeniably better for them and for the hospital, that they have their family with them. But what about those who are ageing without children? Kirsty Woodard explains all:

Action on hearing loss

London, how’s your Hearing?

“Informing yourself about hearing loss, and what help is out there, can be truly transformational. Unaddressed hearing loss can leave people feeling isolated, and affect their mental health. Speaking to people who understand what you’re going through, and can tell you what support is available makes all the difference. Many of those who have used our services have now gone on to take action and get the treatment they need.”

This week’s blog comes from Sinead Armitage, Regional Information Manager at Action on Hearing Loss, the largest charity for people with hearing loss in the UK. Sinead informs us about the UK Hear to Inform and Connect project, which has seen an increase in face-to-face information services across London.

Ageing Better at the Older People’s Advisory Group

“I am involved because you get to know about what other areas are doing, and it’s nice to meet people of our own age who are in the same boat. Some people are quite lonely, quite alone, and this is the only platform they have to get their voice heard. And that is the idea – that everyone has a say.”

Frances Eley, 91, talks about why the Older People’s Advisory Group in Camden is essential for older people in the borough to have their say on issues affecting them, to meet are share information, and to influence the Ageing Better work in the borough.

Loneliness at Christmas

Loneliness at Christmastime

“Who do you turn to when times get tough? Your partner, perhaps. Or your family and closest friends. The people you can rely on. The people who are always there for you. Imagine if you had no one to turn to. No one to ask when you just don’t know what to do next. No one to be there for you when you’re facing a crisis. No one to talk to when you’re feeling desperately lonely. Yet at Christmas the companionship and support of friends and family seems to mean even more than usual – which is why loneliness feels even harsher.”

New analysis from Age UK has found that 198,000 older people in London can go for a month without meeting up with a friend. This week on the blog we explore the loneliness epidemic sweeping our capital.

Keeping the free TV licence.

#SwitchedOff: why we’re campaigning to save free TV for older people

“It’s a common misconception that all older people are comfortably off these days. In fact nearly a fifth of over 75s are living in poverty. For them, paying a hefty extra bill would simply be impossible when they’re barely scraping by as it is. Added to this, half of over 75s are living with a disability. Many of them rely on their TV for companionship and entertainment. And for those who don’t have the internet – a considerable proportion of the oldest in our society – TV enables them stay up to date with what’s happening in the world.”

For over a million of the oldest people in our country, television is their main form of compa-ny. Right now, that’s under threat. Together, we must take a stand. The BBC is considering removing the right to free TV
licences for the over 75s. If this is al-lowed to happen, it’s the most vulnerable people in our society who’ll suffer.