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Tips for avoiding loneliness in self-isolation for over 50s, 60s and 70s older

 loneliness over 50s

With the effects of coronavirus seeming set to continue for the foreseeable future, it’s looking like all of us will have to self-isolate some point. The prospect of having to spend an indeterminate amount of time indoors can seem alarming, particularly if you are 70 or over and you may have to self-isolate for especially long. Loneliness is a natural concern, especially if you’re living by yourself. But rest assured, gransnetters have lots of advice on how to cope with isolation during the coronavirus outbreak.

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Staying in touch 

Though it can feel difficult, it’s essential to keep in touch with your wider social network. Ring family and friends to see how they are - now is an important time to look out for each other. You might want to set up Whatsapp groups with friends or neighbours. If you’re living alone and are in need of a vent, now might be the time to master Whatsapp voice notes. The Gransnet forums are a great place to share advice, support and humour, and make new friends. Don’t forget about old friends too - considering everyone is likely to be stuck at home all day soon, now is a great time to catch up with friends you haven’t spoken to in years. Every cloud!

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Structure your day 

Experts have advised that a sense of structure is an essential tool for helping stave off loneliness during isolation. Waking and going to sleep at the same time can be helpful for feeling like you have structure. The World Health Organisation has advised that a good way to keep on top of anxiety and stress is to check the news only twice a day, at set times. Planning regular phone calls with friends, family or neighbours can be essential to creating a sense of purpose and maintaining communities. 

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Exercise is an essential part of maintaining many people’s mental health, and some Gransnetters are understandably concerned about the loss of endorphins. Thankfully, when it comes to exercise, the internet is your friend. There are lots of online resources that can be really helpful including the NHS online exercise studio, and other at home exercise guides. 

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Know who's most at risk of social isolation and loneliness 

Firstly, if you feel that you are seriously at risk of mental health problems there are several helplines that you can call, including emotional support like Samaritans (116 123) or the Silver Line (0800 470 80 90), or specialist mental health helpline like Rethink (0300 5000 927) or Mind (0300 123 3393). Mutual-Aid groups are being set up all around the country too, where local residents organise themselves to help vulnerable people. If you think you could benefit, or that you could help, get in touch. 

If you know someone who you think is at risk, there are some great practical steps you can take. We all know people who need our support. Although it’s harder than usual to make contact with people who need it, it can still be done. Now is a good time to contact people who you know who are living alone. If you have elderly neighbours who are self-isolating, you might want to let them know they can pass on your phone number to their children, if their kids would be reassured by having direct contact with someone else on their parent’s street. 

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Keeping in touch with grandchildren 

One of the most difficult things for lots of grandparents is not being sure when they will next see their grandchildren. Our gransnetters have some lovely ideas for what you can do to keep in touch with your grandkids while self-isolating. 

"I'm going to send pictures to colour in and maybe some ideas for things to make and do, songs, poems, recipes."

"I have a whole box of 'rainy day activities' which I used to collect when my kids were small - pages cut from magazines, backs of cereal packets, little puzzle books and so on."

"For grandson in the US, post takes ages, so I will also be making video files. I thought I'd start with a Blue Peter type origami demonstration, folding a paper aeroplane for him to try out."


Get creative 

Rather than pressuring yourself to finally write that novel - instead embrace creativity for creativity's sake, and try out some fun new hobbies. The Mind website recommends lots of activities which could help with feelings of loneliness. Their suggestions include: arts and crafts, such as drawing, painting, collage, sewing, craft kits, or upcycling, gardening, colouring, mindfulness, playing musical instruments, singing or listening to music, writing, yoga, and meditation.

"Knitting, crochet, papier mache, colouring, growing veg, creating greetings cards...so many things to do!"

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