Ironically, the issue of loneliness does not get a lot of attention. Rarely do we hear about people trying to tackle the “loneliness problem,” yet it still exists and affects millions of people each year.
But what can you do to make these people’s lives better? If you don’t know the problem exists, how can you find a solution?
Well, the way these two women decided to tackle loneliness is both heartwarming and insanely practical. And when you read their story, it makes you wonder why no one has thought of this before.
Alexandra could never have afforded to live in London were it not for Florence.
Last September, 27-year-old student Alexandra moved to London to study. First-time living in the city can be both daunting and prohibitively expensive.
In normal circumstances, finding an affordable place to live in the city would have been difficult, and the reality of moving to a new place, where you know no-one, could have been crushingly lonely.
But, thankfully for Alexandra, there was a solution: a home-sharing program with senior citizens.
Alexandra signed up to the home-share scheme after seeing a letter about it in a newspaper. She was paired with 95-year-old Florence.
“I wanted to do it because I was very lonely,” Florence told the BBC. “And because I think we all need companionship.”
Senior loneliness is one of those issues that people rarely talk about.
Senior loneliness is a serious issue in the United Kingdom, with around 9 million seniors living alone. But this is not just limited to the UK. According to the Institute on Aging, in the United States, the number of seniors living alone has reached around 11.3 million.
Being on their own presents significantly dangerous situations for these seniors; if they were to fall, for instance, there is a good chance no one will find out until it is too late.
“In a way it was quite frightening,” Florence told the BBC. “Because you don’t know, are you going to fall, is something going to happen to you?”
But loneliness is not just about safety.
“Also, you’re bored to tears,” Florence told the BBC.
Thankfully, the world has started doing something about it.
Florence’s husband had died years earlier, but when she was married they had both led an active life. With the death of her spouse, however, there was nothing she could do but spend most of her time indoors, alone. Though she had children, they had families of their own and were not around often enough to keep her company.
But being elderly is not the only time when people are affected by loneliness; though going out and being active is easier for young people, loneliness can affect everyone.
“I mean, on a completely practical level its been important for me,” Alexandra told the BBC. “But the other things that I’ve got out of it that I wasn’t necessarily expecting is I have a new friend and somewhere that I can feel safe and not isolated in a really big city.”
In fact, though the relationship began as a purely practical arrangement, the two have become fast friends.
“Good friends,” Florence told the BBC.
This program has given these two women an incredible opportunity to create a better life for themselves.
This program was the brainchild of former-MP Jo Cox, who was killed in 2016. Before she died, however, she had started the Jo Cox Commission to combat senior loneliness.
Judging by these two women, it’s been having a real effect.
Indeed, thanks to this home-sharer program these two women were not only able to solve their mutual problems, but also find a special companion.
“You cannot believe the difference that it makes just hearing someone in the house,” Florence told the BBC. “And to me now, to hear the key in the lock, round about six o’clock at night is wonderful.”
Here’s hoping this idea catches on elsewhere, because it truly is brilliant.
Watch the full story below:
"To hear the key in the lock at six o'clock at night is wonderful." Heartwarming story from our friends at BBC Politics – Florence, 95, was lonely. Alexandra, 27, needed an affordable home. They moved in together. ❤️
Posted by BBC Money on Friday, March 2, 2018