What is loneliness?
Loneliness is a complex feeling you may experience when your social needs are not being met. As you get older, you may experience loneliness for many reasons, including:
- If you have lost a loved one
- After moving away from friends and family
- Losing the social connections and enjoyment you used to get from work
- Having health problems that make it difficult for you to go out and do things that you enjoy
You can feel lonely even when you are around other people. Loneliness may cause you to become emotionally isolated or chronically lonely, which may lead to depression.
You are not alone in feeling lonely. Current research has shown that about half of older New Zealanders experience some level of loneliness, and 8-9% feel lonely all or most of the time. However, there are many resources available to you to help alleviate your loneliness. You can contact your local Age Concern to find out what is available in your region.
Help for loneliness
If you would like more company, Age Concern can help. The Age Concern Accredited Visiting Service matches people who would like more company with trained volunteers to spend time together on a weekly basis. You can also contact your local Age Concern to see what other local services, social activities, and volunteer opportunities are available in your region.
The Let’s End Loneliness website offers advice on what to do if you are feeling lonely, which can be read here.
If you need more help, you can check the Let’s End Loneliness website for a list of contacts and helplines. You can also find help at Loneliness NZ.
Age Concern has compiled extensive research about loneliness and ageing, including how Covid-19 affected people’s feelings of loneliness, how prevalent loneliness is in New Zealand, how loneliness affects health, and the cost of loneliness. You can read all of this research here
Websites of interest
- Age Concern social connection resources can be found here
- An overview of loneliness in older age can be found at Loneliness NZ
- You can find more resources for combatting loneliness on the Let’s End Loneliness website
- Hono Mai is a resource aimed at promoting online social connection in older age