Over 9 million people in the UK feel lonely or isolated, with loneliness more common among older people. However, National Lottery funding is bringing people such as Betty Parsons, 83, together, and helping them to lead happier and healthier lives. Here is Betty’s story…
“I was housebound for two years after suffering from a stroke.
I felt depressed about being stuck at home all of the time, but didn’t have the confidence to go out and see other people. All of that changed when I visited The Daffodil Club for the elderly.
I used to run a wee club myself after my husband died, but then I turned 80 and started to take not so well.
I regularly visited the doctors for injections and check-ups. During one of my visits, the nurse noticed my pulse was low and got a doctor to come and see me. He recommended I go to the hospital, but I didn’t want to go and asked if there was anything else he could do, so he gave me some medication instead.
Not long after this I started to experience blackouts, which meant I sometimes collapsed to the floor and bumped my head. I also suffered from a stroke.
I went through months and months of testing to figure out the root of the problem, which turned out to be the medication I had been prescribed. Since taking alternative medication, the blackouts have thankfully stopped.
However, I had lost the feeling in one arm and in my legs, which I eventually managed to regain with medical support, and I had been stuck at home for so long that I rarely saw my neighbours and stopped seeing my friends. I felt depressed and, most of the time, no longer had the confidence to leave the house.
Then I met Lynda.
Lynda was a friend who I hadn’t met in a long time. After I talked to her about my experiences over the past couple of years, Lynda reminded me she was still running a club, called The Daffodil Club, for older people in the area and encouraged me to come along.
I was reluctant, but my daughter managed to persuade me to go along for at least one day.
The first day was difficult as I didn’t know anyone, so I didn’t want to go back. But with continuous encouragement from Lynda I managed to keep going.
I got to know the people at the club and began to enjoy their company. It’s nice being able to spend time with people of a similar age.
I’ve even had the opportunity to go on holiday with the club, which I hadn’t done in years.
I go to The Daffodil Club three days a week now and love it – and I feel so much happier now that my confidence has returned.”
Figures on loneliness taken from: http://www.redcross.org.uk/en/What-we-do/Health-and-social-care/Independent-living/Loneliness-and-isolation
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