Week 10 of my comfort zone challenge and this week I would do my best to reach out to the elderly generation. This is something I’m notoriously bad at, often paying little notice to the older generation, whilst getting on with what I believe to be my busy life.
In reading up before this challenge, I knew that loneliness was an issue amongst the elderly people, but I was shocked to read that 5 million older people are affected by loneliness. That’s 1 in 3 of the entire elderly population in the UK. I was also sad to read, amongst many other stats, that 5 million elderly people find television as their main form of companionship. Most of these people won’t have much choice in the matter, often living alone, and potentially widowed.
With these stats in mind, I immediately felt that taking part in the County Ground Cuppa event, ran in conjunction with the Friends of the Elderly, would be something that would be really worthwhile.
The Friends of the Elderly campaign attempts to reach out at those who may feel a bit lonely or isolated. It offers them the chance to get together with a cup of tea and a chat, whilst hopefully building up connections with other local people.
Would you believe it, when I came into the event, I was stupidly intimidated. I thought in my mind, these people aren’t going to want to talk to me. What can I offer them?
Once I had a conjured up the confidence to sit with them, I soon realised I’d have nothing to worry about. They really did seem to enjoy the company. I ended up sitting with Brenda and Mary, who I seemed to get on with very well. After offering to make them a cup of tea (earning my brownie points), they were very interested in what I did with my life. We got chatting about cricket, which couldn’t be more in my comfort zone, but was a good conversation piece for all of us.
Would you believe it, I ended up playing bingo again! That’s twice in three weeks. AND.. I only went and won again. I’m considering packing everything in, and taking up bingo as a profession. I won getting two lines which, instead of winning me £200, it got me a packed of biscuits, which I shared with the table (more brownie points). I also was the first to get a full house, but I decided not to call out bingo for this one. I thought I’d let someone else have the winning moment! (I’ve had my fair share recently).
What I have to say, is what a great initiative this campaign is. Everyone seemed to be getting involved, and it was great to see 30 local elderly people interacting with each other.
Having everyday interactions with other people has been proven to combat loneliness and is something that I take for granted. I’m going to make a conscious effort now to at least be more aware of the elderly generation, whether it just be a small chat at the station or helping out where I can. I’m blessed to have an interactive job with amazing friends and family, it only seems right to help out where I can. Fingers crossed, when we are all old, we can receive the same treatment!