Not ‘Bah Humbug’
What is loneliness – seems a straightforward question for most people, actually it’s probably not as clear cut as people think? Some of you, maybe, are thinking actually it’s Christmas, time for family, friends, possible parties, possibly going to some big sporting events eg on Boxing day, and only people who live on their own can be lonely, and if they are in workplace they are also not lonely. In the workplace you look around and you think they are in ‘the Christmas spirit’ (great person to be around) but they’re not (and may think Scrooge or bah humbug!) and avoid them.
However, think about this for a moment, like Scrooge many people will work long hours, don’t have a partner (the story indicates that’s his own fault). He was in the centre of his community, close to his nephew, but lived alone. We, maybe, wrongly assume that lonely older men are just men who live alone of a certain age, but actually they may have a job, surrounded by people and some family, and close to local ‘infrastructure’. Some of these men, maybe, are carers themselves, however they still feel lonely. So it’s not just about their household status.
There is plenty of research and evidence that shows that loneliness and social isolation don’t always go hand in hand, yes there are many people where this is true but for many others their loneliness that is what they suffer with. So if you work with someone, a co-worker, a boss this Christmas, see somebody coming into your shop or organisation on a regular basis, have a chat, see how you can include them in what is happening, some maybe are happy not be involved but what we don’t know is what we don’t know. Especially for carers in the workplace at Christmas they in particular can be very lonely even though they spend time looking after somebody and also holding down a job. Maybe we can re-write Scrooge to centre on loneliness in older men, and not automatically think he’s a ‘Scrooge’? Contact Chris Hill, firstname.lastname@example.org, to see how we can help lonely and socially isolated older men.