Millions of older people are loneliest in the summer – as they get fewer visits from loved ones and have more hours in the day to fill. Research of 1,400 retired people commissioned by Specsavers discovered that 27 per cent feel disconnected when loved ones’ social schedules ramp up, leaving less time for them to check in.
With the country experiencing record temperatures this summer, 43 per cent admit to struggling in the heat which can cause them to become isolated from their family and friends. It also emerged 57 per cent think people talk more about loneliness in older people during winter, than the summer months, with 62 per cent believing isolation during the warmest time of year is just as big an issue.
"During the summer months when people typically have more plans, it’s easy to forget older people may be missing out on valuable interaction with loved ones as a result. The research has shown there is a hidden issue around loneliness in older people during this period. And with the days being longer, no doubt it can often feel quite a lonely time for many," Specsavers Ireland chairman, Kerril Hickey, said.
Researchers found 62 percent believe people popping around to visit others is a lifeline when they are feeling secluded in the summer, while 47 percent have tried joining social clubs – either locally or online – to curb their solitude. And 22 percent of people are homebound for long periods in the summer as they struggle to fill the days, even if they would normally be able to leave the house alone. And, despite the average respondent living with two people, 58 percent say even when surrounded by others, they can sometimes still feel alone.
Nearly one in six (14 percent ) will go a week without having a face-to-face conversation with someone close to them, with 40 percent saying they can go multiple days during the summer without a chat in person.
While 41 percent would like to make more friends, 16 percent find this difficult, according to the research. Boredom can set in for 26 percent when they go longer than usual without having a meaningful conversation, while 19 percent experience feelings of sadness.
Despite their emotional state, six in 10 only want to be visited by relatives if they want to, as they do not want to feel like a burden.
"Even a small conversation that might appear insignificant could have a huge impact on an older person’s day. Hopefully, this research goes some way to highlighting a hidden problem, and readers will use this as a reminder to pick up the phone or visit an older relative who might be hiding their feelings of loneliness.
‘Our teams can help give people some much needed face-to-face interaction while providing an important service which helps them maintain their quality of life. Maintaining good vision and hearing can help people to continue to enjoy the things they love and in turn reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness," Kerril added.
With thanks to PRSI benefits, eligible customers can see and hear for free at Specsavers. Customers can avail of one free pair of glasses from the €69 range and one pair of free hearing aids up to the value of €1,000. More recent updates to the PRSI Treatment Benefit Programme means that people aged 25-28 will now only need to work for 9 months to avail of optical and hearing treatments which will benefit almost 80,000 young people within this age cohort. Specsavers are encouraging people to enquire about these PRSI benefits when making their appointments.
For more information on home visiting services, see https://www.specsavers.ie/hearing/hearing-test/hearing-tests-at-home.