Ever since his wife and sister passed away a few years ago, Derek Taylor has been overcome with loneliness.
The 90-year-old pensioner, who lives in Manchester, admits he felt “isolated and alone” after losing his loved ones. “The older you get, the less people seem to contact you,” he tells the BBC.
However, in a bid to channel his emotions into something positive, Taylor has done his best to free himself from what often feels like a form of solitary confinement, coming up with a list of 10 tips for reducing loneliness.
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“I thought, ‘What can I do to stop feeling lonely?’ [...] These are simply the things I have done to keep myself active and involved,” explains Taylor. “I thought they might be useful for other older people living on their own.”
His list of tips to fight loneliness have proven incredibly popular – and have now been published in the Manchester City Council’s Age-Friendly Manchester Program handout.
- Make an effort to make new friends
- Join a hobbies club
- Visit your local community or resource centre and find out what’s on offer
- Learn to use a computer at your local library
- Seek help from your local social services
- Consider taking in a lodger or a paying guest
- Use your telephone more often to contact people – don’t wait for people to contact you
- Contact friends and relatives you haven’t spoken to recently
- Make friends with your neighbours
- Do voluntary work if you are able
Taylor also advises people suffering from loneliness to attend “coffee mornings” and to get involved in “all sorts of local activities” (he personally prefers gardening).
Since writing the list, Taylor has taken his own advice and has become a lot more involved in his community. He has even made new friends by becoming an Age-Friendly Champion and via his campaigning projects.
“You feel as though you’re alive again,” he tells the BBC.
We love this pensioner’s incredible attitude to life, and fingers crossed his newfound “celebrity status” will encourage more of us to reach out and speak to an elderly person when we sit next to them on the bus or walk past them at the supermarket, or try to brighten up their day in some small way.
You can find out about Age UK’s befriending services (both telephone and face-to-face) on their website. Or, if you are worried about an elderly relative or neighbour, they also have advice on how best to overcome loneliness.