After her life-long best friend died, elderly woman spent three years isolated in her home, before a weekly 'tea-party' group encouraged her to socialise once more
- Loneliness and isolation are major problems for the elderly population
- At least 36% of older people in the UK speaking to less than one person a day
- Maud, aged 90, lived in isolation for years after the death of best friend Margie
- But eventually she stepped out the house again – thanks to a 'tea-party' group
Maud, aged 90, lived in isolation for years after the death of her life-long best friend
For many elderly people, social isolation is a serious, all-consuming problem. Many live alone, have little contact with their friends or family, or may just find it difficult to travel or get out of the house by themselves.
For 90-year-old Maud, this type of loneliness became a real issue after the death of her life-long best friend Margie. Not only had the two gone everywhere together, they had also lived together for long periods of time too.
With no other family or friends around, Maud was left with 'an empty void she could not fill.'
'When Margie died, I felt that I didn’t want to live anymore and fell into a rut, not wanting to go out,' explains Maud.
"I feel like I have a whole new set of friends to talk to. It’s wonderful."
A New Purpose
But then five years ago, Maud's eye was caught by an advertisement for Contact the Elderly – a charity dedicated to tackling loneliness amongst older people through reintroducing them to physical, face-to-face contact.
The charity explained to Maud the concept of their "tea parties" - how one Sunday afternoon every month, a volunteer will offer to drive their older guest to the house of another volunteer, where a group will convene. Here, they can enjoy tea, cake – and by far and away, most importantly – talk and companionship.
This idea can brighten up a community of both young and elderly people living amongst each other, but never otherwise having the opportunity to discuss life or have a chat.
The tea parties also consciously take part on a Sunday – as research by the charity has shown Sunday is recognised as the 'loneliest day of the week' for older people living alone.
Contact the Elderly organises volunteer-led Sunday afternoon tea parties once every month
Maud now looks forward to this even where she can socialise with volunteers and new friends
As the day loomed when Maud would attend her first tea party, she became increasingly nervous and was unsure whether she could leave her home. But digging deep for courage, Maud went, and as she puts it, 'has never looked back since'.
The friendship groups created by the tea parties are a source of confidence for many elderly attendees – and even a lifeline to those who feel the loneliness is too much to bare.
'Contact the Elderly has changed my life,' states Maud. 'I feel like I have a whole new set of friends to talk to. It’s wonderful.'