Most of us will feel lonely at various times throughout our lives. And the sad fact is that as you get older, you’re more likely to become lonely. For a growing number of older people, loneliness ends up defining their lives, impacting on their happiness, health and wellbeing.
It’s not difficult to understand how this happens. Loneliness usually occurs when we feel that we don’t have close personal relationships and lack an active social life. Living alone, being divorced or widowed, suffering from poor health that prevents us from getting out and about as much as we’d like, a lack of community around us – these can all cause isolation and loneliness.
And loneliness can then lead to depression, stress, mental health issues, sleep problems, hypertension – even impaired cognitive health.
According to Age UK, approximately 200,000 older people have not had a single conversation with family or friends for a month. Almost 4 million state that their televisions are their main source of companionship.
Care in our own community
As we are all aware, the issue of social care has dominated the recent General Election. Yet more than 1 million over 65s are said to be ‘chronically lonely’. Sadly, people who suffer from extreme loneliness are more likely to have ongoing mental and physical health issues and die prematurely. This means that they tend to use social care and NHS services far more than older people with an active social life.
And with an ageing population, this is only going to get worse.
Many traditional lunch clubs have been cut, which over the years, have provided a space in which older people can meet, eat and make friends in their local area. And although councils and charities are trying their hardest to invest in befriending schemes designed to connect older people with younger members of their community, their budgets are stretched so tightly that these schemes have had to remain small-scale despite the obvious need.
Warley Park Golf Course is proud to have many older people as members, all of whom benefit from our active golfing and social calendar. Golf is a sport that is accessible to all ages and abilities – men, women, young and old. New players can play with seasoned golfers; disabled golfers can play with able-bodied people; when it comes to golf there are no limitations or discriminations.
In addition, we have found that memberships provides people with an incentive to recover quickly from physical injuries, such as knee or hip replacements, or strokes. Having the desire to play golf again – plus of course, natural competitiveness – means that older golfers are often up and playing far quicker than even they expected!
Participation is key to reducing loneliness. Warley Park Golf Club members feel part of a friendly, welcoming club. We have seen numerous friendship groups being formed that extend far beyond the fairways, greens and clubhouse. And we are immensely proud of this.
Our large Seniors section welcomes new members with open arms, so if you know of anyone who may benefit from meeting new people and getting active, or are concerned that you are getting lonelier, please visit our dedicated webpage.