Caring

What is Loneliness and Social Isolation?

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According to research by the University of York, ‘Loneliness is a subjective feeling associated with someone’s perception that their relationships with others are deficient’ whereas, ‘social isolation is a more objective measure of the absence of relationships, ties or contact with others’. In sum the latter can be a choice.

Ben Lazare Mijuskovic writes in Loneliness in Philosophy, Psychology, and Literature (2012) ‘man has always and everywhere suffered from feelings of acute loneliness’, however, it is important to recognise that loneliness means different things to different people. It is equally important to be cognizant of that fact that some people will feel lonely spending just a day alone, whilst others can go months with minimal social contact or communication and not experience any negative emotions. ‘Some may be socially isolated but content with minimal social contact or actually prefer to be alone’ writes Julianne Holt-Lunstad, the lead author of a 2015 report on loneliness in Perspectives on Psychological Science. ‘Others may have frequent social contact but still feel lonely.’ As the Age UK Loneliness and Isolation Evidence review also points out it is ‘possible to be isolated and not lonely, and to be lonely without being isolated’.

This is the topic of research conducted by Kiren Zubairi, and led to the hosting of a conference on Loneliness and Social isolation hosted by the Kincardine And Mearns Welfare and Wellbeing network.
 We were fortunate to have Kiren Zubairi author of the Zubairi Report on Loneliness and Social Isolation coming along to share her finding from the report. This qualitative study investigates the loneliness and social isolation experienced by under-represented demographics in Scotland, who often face multiple triggers including socio-economic disadvantage, poor access to transport and a lack of places and spaces that encourage connectedness and foster belonging.

The-Zubairi-Report-VHS-Nov-2018

Over the next few weeks this blog will aim to look at this topic; what are the causes, what are the effects of this, what can we do to address this issue, and what’s happening both locally and more widely to address this ever increasing issue.

Pop back next week to find out more!

Carers Week 11th – 17th June 2018

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Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.

Quarriers – Aberdeenshire Carer Support Service are hosting a series of promotional events during Carers Week, in partnership with Aberdeenshire Library and Information Service (ALIS).  Libraries will display the winning entries from the recent adult carer poetry and photography competitions and Quarriers staff will be going on tour with the central and south mobile library buses to reach out to hidden carers in rural areas.  A presentation booklet of the winning entries and details on where unpaid carers can get support will be available for the public to take away.  If you would like to find out the routes on their tour please visit:

Mobile Library Central – www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/media/22122/m1-central-mar-jun-2018.pdf

Mobile Library South – www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/media/22123/m4-south-mar-jun-2018.pdf

Spare Chair Sunday

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Spare Chair Sunday first launched in 2015 as a partnership between national charity Contact the Elderly and Bisto. Expanding on the charity’s model of free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people aged over 75 who live alone, Spare Chair Sunday encouraged people to offer a ‘spare chair’ at their Sunday lunch tables to a Contact the Elderly older guest and their volunteer driver, to share a delicious warm lunch all together. The response to the award-winning campaign was amazing, with over 1,600 Spare Chair Sunday volunteers hosting Sunday lunches or becoming regular tea party volunteers in their local community.

Any host homes or venues must have a downstairs toilet and be easily accessible (generally we say no more than three steps where possible).

Any car used must be fully insured and drivers must hold a full driving licence, as well as supplying two references and completing a DBS check. This is for the safety and security of guests and host.

Interested?  Click on http://www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk/volunteer to apply to become a volunteer. Applications are dealt with as soon as possible, but please do be patient, all necessary checks must be made. In some cases, there will not be anyone near enough to you,  groups may already have as many volunteers as they require, or there may not be a group in your area. It may be the case that your application may enable work to be launched in the area for the first time, enabling more older people to benefit!

A Cupful of Sugar

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Borrowing from neighbours was once a commonplace practice, part of the network of relations we once had with those who lived within close range. 

So what’s changed?

The industrial revolution brought affordable modern technology—with it quick transportation and supermarkets. In ancient times, hunting, gathering, and foraging were communal practices. And it wasn’t long ago that many cultures, especially rural ones, still relied on weekly markets, traveling salesmen, and the growing of their own goods. But living in relative isolation also meant more contact with your neighbours because one of them probably provided your weekly dairy needs and another milled wheat for flour or grew pears you exchanged for apples.

Changes in food technology, making fresh produce less perishable, extending shelf life, has decreased the interaction we have with those who live close by to help out when we are running short. Communal cooking practises regularly seen in other countries don’t feature in our society.

It’s easy to reflect on past practises with rose tinted spectacles. Changes in our food supply has brought countless benefits. However, does the growing reliance on foodbanks indicate we should re-evaluate practises long forgotten? Reconnecting with our neighbours in times of need would not only strengthen bonds within our communities but provide welcome support during difficult times. The social distance created by modern society is a symptom of our increasingly busy lives and the sprawling communities we now live in. However, it is only a short walk next door for that cupful of sugar, but the benefits to our communities can stretch much further than that.

Community Cohesion – Do ants hold the secret to human success?

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Solomon thought so, he says to ‘go to the ant’ and ‘consider the ant’ and refers to them as little upon the earth but exceeding wise. He suggests that taking a leaf from their book will preserve us from poverty and give us wisdom. Given Solomon is the richest man the world has ever known (today he would be worth 100 times more than John D Rockefeller), some ant facts are worth knowing.

So, how do ant communities do it?

1. Strong leadership

Ant communities are headed by a queen or queens, whose function in life is to lay thousands of eggs that will ensure the survival of the colony. Workers (the ants typically seen by humans) are wingless females that never reproduce, but instead, forage for food, care for the queen’s offspring, work on the nest, protect the community, and perform many other duties. When the queen of the colony dies, the colony can only survive a few months. Queens are rarely replaced and the workers are not able to reproduce. The lesson;

Without strong and clear leadership – failure is imminent!

2.      Communicate & cooperate

Ants are social insects which form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies which may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Ants communicate and cooperate by using chemicals (pheromones) that can alert others to danger or lead them to a promising food source. The lesson;

Nothing can succeed without clear communication and cooperation.

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Linking Generations

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Connections between generations are proven to enrich the lives of both young and seniors in long-lasting and meaningful ways.

When young people find ways to engage and develop relationships with the elderly, these experiences can build self-esteem, develop leadership skills, and encourage a lifelong commitment to volunteering.

For seniors, intergenerational connections provide the opportunity to transfer knowledge and wisdom, acknowledge self-worth, and feel they are contributing members of society.

In today’s world, many young people are experiencing less interaction with seniors because of homogenous neighborhoods, dispersed extended families, and increasing segregation of seniors living in care facilities or in isolation

Some of the benefits of intergenerational work include:

  • Creation of age friendly communities.
  • All generations have a lot to both teach and learn from each other and contribute to lifelong learning.
  • Tackles issues around stereotyping and ageism.
  • Increases understanding and respect between older people and younger people.
  • Chance to make new friends and combats social isolation.

 

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