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 is a major problem for the elderly, with at least 36% of older people in the UK speaking to less than one person a day
  • 90-year-old Maud lived in three years of isolation after struggling to cope with the death of her life-long best friend Margie
  • But charity Contact the Elderly helped Maud to get out the house once again, by visiting their regular 'tea-party' groups

Written by Samantha Lade for DonateToday

PUBLISHED: 15:05, 7th Sep 2017 | UPDATED: 16:32, 26th Sep 2017

Total Isolation

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."

-  Maud

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

Looking Forward

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.'

Please note that names may have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved. Images are used for illustrative purposes only and, unless specified, persons included in images are posed models, not the persons mentioned in the article.