I wanted to find out what it would be like to spend a week in complete isolation, in order to raise awareness of loneliness amongst older people in Britain.
From Monday 3rd April 2017 until Sunday 9th April, I did not leave the confines of the house for a week with no access to my mobile phone, social media or human contact of any kind with all food bought in advance.
As part of the Nicest Job in Britain, I spent a week volunteering with charity Friendship at Home, a charity which aims to combat isolation and loneliness amongst older people through befriending services, social activities and support.
I met a lady in her home who is now bed bound and when I got talking to her, I learnt that despite her current state she had led such a colourful life. The spirit of that young woman who flew around the world is still inside her. It struck me that without any other visitors, how much the befriending service meant to her and that without it these wonderful stories and wisdom would be lost forever. I wanted to do something about it.
Research indicates loneliness can be as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. 17% of older people see visitors less than once a week and two fifths say the television is their main company. Lonely individuals are more likely to visit their GP, use medication, fall, undergo early entry into residential care and use A&E independent of chronic illness. State services and the NHS can only do so much. What has to happen, is the engagement of local communities.
You can watch my video diary below!
It’s all feeling a little surreal
My strategy is to remain occupied
I reflect on pace of life and appreciate my surroundings
The gravity takes hold
I work on further distractions
I look back at the week