But it's not just at Christmastime that elderly people feel a sense of loss. All year round, many people struggle daily to find some purpose in their lives, especially those without close family ties. The Silver Line has been running for a year, but now the service is to be set up nationwide.
Talking about her decision to set up the service she said in a new interview with the Radio Times: ‘Recently I received a letter from Ellen, clearly a clever woman who has brought up a family and held a responsible job, and yet who feels that in her old age “my days are pointless and I’m a waste of space”.
‘Reading it, I felt a surge of anger. Something must be done to assure our older population that they are valued. We must reach out to them, link them back into their communities, and convince them that older people are a resource, a national treasure. There must be no sell-by date, no moment when older people become rubbish to be discarded, thrown away. Loneliness is, according to the Department of Health, as dangerous physically as smoking or obesity. Mentally and emotionally, it is utterly destructive.
‘This is the generation that does not readily ask for help. They don’t want to be a burden. Loneliness is a creeping enemy, it isolates, erodes confidence, until it becomes more and more difficult to step outside the front door.’
But, now I'm facing a time of uncertainty in my later years. Separated from family and the grandchildren I never had a chance to know, I'm redundant. Despite living with the disability of not being able to walk without pain, I write, which gives me a sense of fulfillment. You'll see my published books on the sidebar. I've vowed to never have another operation—they go wrong. Besides that, what is the point at my age? I'm not a working member of society. I won't bother a busy doctor with my disturbing weakness. My husband takes care of me—at the moment. I'd rather not face what will happen in the future if he should be struck down.
Bravo to Esther Rantzen for setting up this Silver Line for all those people who feel alone and just need to talk to someone. I don't know what it's like in your country, but I hope you appreciate all the knowledge that an older person can share, given encouragement.