If you’ve been to the shops recently and fancied yourself some chocolate, you might have noticed that there’s something missing on Cadbury wrappers. It’s words.
Most people have experienced moments where older people want to strike up a conversation and tell never-ending stories, whether they are your own family members, customers, or just people you meet in public. It can be a lovely interaction, or maybe you need to get moving. Either way, sometimes we forget that this could be due to the fact that they’re lonely and just want someone to chat to.
Cadbury are trying to combat this loneliness by giving people the opportunity to “donate their words” because in the UK, 1.4 million older people suffer from loneliness and 225,000 of them often go a whole week without speaking to anyone. They will be donating to Age UK with 30p of each Cadbury bar bought.
Sue Perkins put herself in the shoes of many older people and lived in isolation for 30 hours, which you can watch below.
It’s hard to imagine what complete isolation is like, because for many of us, even if we go a couple of days not physically socialising, we still have our phones to text, call, or communicate through social media. If we don’t use that, we still have TV’s, radios, games consoles or streaming services like Netflix to keep us entertained. How sue spent 30 hours, is unfortunately typical for a lot of older people.
Age UK say that “loneliness is associated with depression, sleep problems, impaired cognitive health, heightened vascular resistance, hypertension, psychological stress and mental health problems.” We can’t begin to imagine what growing older whilst dealing with any of these issues could feel like. Age UK have also looked at different causes of loneliness associated with old aged people including:
- Deterioration of social networking: friends or family members live far, or no longer be living. They may not have had any children and could be divorced or widowed, and it’s hard to socialise or meet people when you’re not working.
- Health issues: as we get older, our physical and mental health can deteriorate. We may need carers, have limited mobility, or illnesses such as dementia which can affect our ability to socialise effectively.
- Individual characteristics: factors such as ethnicity, religion, sexuality, socioeconomic status etc. can cause isolation, depending on the circumstances.
- Neighbourhood: having a lack of neighbourliness within the area, reputation of the area and even the structure and architecture of an area can affect socialisation for older people.
Unfortunately, there is no local support here in Northern Ireland. However, if you wanted to volunteer at a local Age UK shop, or pop in and get some stylish finds whilst also donating – you can find your nearest Age UK charity shop using their finder map.
Cadbury and Age UK are urging people to not only donate, but take some time out of their day to help older people in and out of their lives. Here’s what you can do:
- Start a conversation with an older person
- Call an older relative
- Check in on a older neighbour
- Volunteer with Age UK
We might take older people for granted, or even ignore them. But it’s important to acknowledge that they’re people just like everyone else and have lived rich and interesting lives, probably filled with great advice for the rest of us.
It’s great that such a famous company are using a frequently purchased product to start a conversation about loneliness in older people. Not only that, but they are taking earned money from a product, and donating it to something of a greater significance, that also needs it more. Not only are Age UK and older people gaining more support and donations, but Cadbury are also creating a positive and helpful appearance for their company. It’s a win-win!
To find out more information, you can visit:
Maya McCloskey is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @maya_papaya30 and Instagram: @maya_mcc