13. Description of the core message of your event and key topics to be covered (c.100 words):
Social isolation and loneliness have long been perceived as problems of old age, even though the majority of older people actually do not consider themselves lonely. We know, however, that loneliness increases with age, but this is thought to be related to changes in living arrangements, partner status, and subjective health among people aged 80 or over. It has been suggested that social support could be an important element of interventions intended to alleviate loneliness. Social support is defined as a person’s real or perceived benefits of interacting with others. The absence of social isolation and loneliness is likely to be a desirable state that older people would wish to maintain.
Mima Cattan has conducted research on loneliness among older people for many years and published extensively on the subject. The main focus of her research has been on the impact and effectiveness of health promotion interventions aimed at reducing loneliness in later life.
Glenda Cook has developed and evaluated a range of interventions that seek to enhance social interaction with groups of older people who experience social isolation and loneliness. These approaches include senior peer mentoring, creative arts and social robotic technology.
Research at Northumbria University has focused on developing innovative approaches to social isolation and loneliness with vulnerable groups.
The proposed session will have three sections:
1. An overview of current evidence of what works in preventing or reducing social isolation and loneliness in older people (Mima Cattan)
2. An overview of current studies that are developing innovative approaches to addressing social isolation and loneliness in older people (Glenda Cook; Mima Cattan; Cathy Bailey; Margaret Cook)
3. An interactive session led by Equal Arts (http://equalarts.org.uk/) providing an overview of service developments that are being pioneered the region and an opportunity to engage in creative ageing activities (Alice Thwaite, Equal Arts)