Conference hears of effective solution to reducing negative impact of loneliness in older people

Age Friendly Ireland today hosted a conference on loneliness among older people.

The conference saw the launch of the results of a study entitled ‘Only the Lonely’ – positive findings from the evaluation of an effective and low cost intervention to tackle loneliness – which explored the health benefits of enhancing social engagement in older people. The study was carried out by the Mercer’s Institute for Research on Ageing in St James’s Hospital, funded by Atlantic Philanthropies and supported by Age Friendly Ireland and previously the Ageing Well Network.

As part of the study, community-dwelling older adults who might be experiencing loneliness were identified through GPs, public health nurses, parish staff and other working with older people in the community. A group of local volunteers, also aged over 55, were then recruited. Volunteers visited the participants for an hour once a week for 10 weeks over a three-month period. Initially the aim was to develop a rapport with the participant, but also to encourage the participant to identify a social connection they would like to make and that would be sustainable beyond the timeframe of the study.  The impact on loneliness was then compared to a similar control group of older people receiving only their usual individualised care from community services.

You can read a press release from today’s event here

You can download a copy of ‘Only the Lonely’ here