How to spot loneliness in disabled people
For the foreseeable future we are going to be banging on about loneliness following the launch of our #StopTheShadow campaign, but how do you know when somebody feels isolated?
Most of us don’t shout when we crave company, a bit of TLC, it’s embarrassing - despite there being nothing to be ashamed of.
Disabled people are more likely to feel lonely due to the fact they can be excluded from social events and communities, either by their lack of physical ability or negligence from others.
But it’s not always easy to suss when a person is going through loneliness, so here’s a few signs to look out for.
They are more quiet - A person feeling isolated can be less vocal than usual.
Repeating movements - Actions such as tapping their leg can be a sign of somebody going through loneliness as the sensory stimulation replaces social stimulation in some cases when a person has little interaction with others.
Exhaustion - An individual who feels they are alone can become tired for no valid reason.
Rejecting physical contact - If you feel down there’s a good chance you don’t want a hug or a cuddle.
A change in appetite - People who are going through loneliness may eat more than usual or lose their appetite.
Not looking after their appearance - If you feel nobody cares your appearance and hygiene can be overlooked.
So how can you help? If you suspect somebody is lonely give them a call or a text just to show you are thinking of them. A text takes a few seconds to compose and send, but can have a lasting effect on somebody who feels that not many people care about their wellbeing.
Offer to take them out somewhere, include them in activities, speak to others and set up a WhatsApp group which you can invite them to join. You don’t have to bend over backwards and go out of your way - just set aside a few hours to see them or failing that a couple of seconds to send a message so they know you are thinking about them.
[ Research by Sense has shown that up to 50% of disabled people will be lonely on any given day. ]