Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Working with Older People, Volume 15, Issue 2
“The campaign to end loneliness” was launched earlier this year. It brings together a number of organisations working under the banner of the Campaign to End Loneliness. As I read the article by Laura Ferguson on the campaign, it struck me that loneliness and social isolation are the root of so many problems experienced by some older people. Loneliness can lead to mental illness, including depression, alcohol and substance misuse, self-neglect, a lack of confidence and subsequently a loss of independence. Jacky Mortimer’s article on older people and alcohol abuse, “Never too late”, illustrates through case studies the devastating impact of loneliness when a person starts to abuse alcohol as a result.
Addressing loneliness and social isolation can have far reaching benefits for the health and wellbeing of older people as well as the communities in which they live. When we feel connected to other people through social networks and feel valued we are much happier and able to contribute more. However, bereavement, loss or work, poor health and other life changes can all lead to a person feeling disconnected from society and excluded. Sadly, this is the experience of a significant number of older people. The problem can be compounded by poverty, poor public transport and age discrimination which make local services and facilities inaccessible. Involving older people in planning and delivering services, addressing their transport needs, valuing the contribution that older people can make to their local community by using their skills and experience, bringing together all ages within a community to learn from each other, developing social networks, improving access to all services and providing specialist services such as talking therapies, are all ways to address loneliness and isolation. They are also some of the topics covered by this issue of Working with Older People.
Christine Wood and Mel Wright’s article concerns promoting the involvement of older people in shaping policy and practice, with case studies from Age Concern County Durham and KOVE. I visited KOVE last year and was really impressed by the energy, commitment and passion of its members, many of whom were over 80 years of age.
Continuing the Intergenerational series but under the wider heading of Building Community Capacity, Michael Teffel explores intergenerational practice in Berlin. If older people are to feel an integral part of their community and we are to tackle age discrimination then we need to think about bringing together all ages as equal citizens and valuing what each person can contribute.
Alex Fox also writes about the contribution of older people in providing services as well as receiving them and the importance of developing real relationships in “A new model for care and support”.
We would all hope to prevent social isolation and loneliness but some older people will experience this and as a result suffer from depression. Suzannah Clark and Leila Jackson describe “The wellbeing project” and how cognitive behavioural therapy has improved the psychological wellbeing of older people.
So, another full and varied issue, thank you to all of the contributors and to Stephen Weeks for the book review on Shock of Gray. It sounds like a great read offering a new look at the impact of our changing demographics.
Readers of the last issue of Working with Older People may remember that I wrote in the editorial about the experience of Derek Wells our cartoonist in teaching young people how to draw cartoons as part of a schools intergenerational project. Sadly Derek never got to read that issue of Working with Older People when it was published in March as he died that same month. Derek will be greatly missed by the Editorial Board of Working with Older People. To remember him we have published some of his best cartoons from earlier issues of Working with Older People.