If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair. - Samuel Johnson, 1755
Professor Christina Victor and her colleagues at Brunel University in England have studied data on 4,500 people over the age of 50 who took part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. They found that less than 10% complained of "significant loneliness". Most of the participants in the study had maintained strong social ties. Professor Victor believes that loneliness can become a self-fulfilling prophecy if people expect to become lonely as they get older. She concluded that "We need to adopt a positive outlook on old age and take care to tend social relationships that are meaningful to us throughout our lives".
Ideally, whatever outlet we choose for our creative talents, we should try to ensure that it provides us with opportunities to make new friends. One of my own early ventures after I retired, was to join a mixed voice choir, as I enjoy singing in the bath! It was advertised as being a social activity but the reality was disappointing. We came in one evening per week, rehearsed for about an hour and a half and then went home. There wasn't so much as a cup of tea provided. I gave it three months then quit.
The following year I joined my local tennis club. We meet every Tuesday morning, play a couple of sets and then head into the clubhouse for a coffee, a biscuit and a bit of friendly banter. It's great! The only thing I could suggest to make it better would be name badges, as I have met so many people. Later this month we are organising an evening meal in the clubhouse, which sounds like it should be fun. Does playing tennis count as a creative activity? Well, it does the way I do it!
I first came across the idea of combining social connection with a creative outlet some years ago, while I was still commuting to work by train. I got into conversation with a fellow traveller who belonged to a local Art Club. Their weekly meetings always revolved around tea and biscuits but more than that - two or three times a year they would rent a large cottage in the Mourne Mountains, which is an Area of Outstandng Natural Beauty (AONB). In the mornings, after breakfast they would go walking in the hills and forests gaining inspiration. The afternoons were spent painting what they had found. When evening came they made their way to a local hotel for a good dinner and then back to the cottage for an evening of music and song! I thought that sounded brilliant!
Featured Activity - Radio Club
The idea behind Radio Club is to combat loneliness and isolation in older people through the familiar medium of local radio. Many older people who live alone, will have their radio on throughout the day for company.
Radio Club provides a forum where participants can chat live on air from their armchairs. By making older people participants as well as recipients, they acknowledge the wealth of skills and experience that the silver generation has to offer.
If you love dance band music, are a crossword addict or have a passionate attachment to your local football team, you can share your enthusiasm, stories and knowledge with like-minded people by participating in a weekly radio show. Radio Club allows older people to socialise on air from their own homes for an hour a week.
Members pass on their wisdom and thoughts, and because they're involved in the programme planning, they get friendly phone calls outside the Radio Club hour. This means that both they and their growing band of listeners can be sure that the content is what they want.
As well as having a new sense of belonging and community, and feeling that their contribution is valued, they are giving national DJ's a run for their money.
The Birmingham Radio Club is a pilot scheme: the organisers are busy setting up other clubs around the country. Already there are Radio Clubs in Derby, London and York, with more in the pipeline. To learn more, you can visit www.myradioclub.com, call 0780 935 1667 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is a short video clip to introduce the concept.
Michael has been browsing through some old photographs. Images of past times can be very powerful reminders of family and friends long gone. To read about Michael's trip "down memory lane", click here
I have no reason to believe it is anything other than coincidence but Jeanette has sent me an article about writing her own life memoir. Maybe it is the time of year with it's short days and long winter nights, that causes us to reflect.
Click here to read Jeanett's thoughts on recording your life story.