What Next For Our Loneliness Tests?

We spent April until June looking at the theme of Loneliness. Over the next few posts we will sum up our thinking and tell you where we are going next. 

Today: Avoiding Ageism

Very quickly we saw that there was a danger of focussing on deficits. Of reinforcing stereotypes about what being lonely looks like and who are the groups most likely to experience it.

The most common thing we saw from lots of reports was a focus on loneliness amongst older people. Some have suggested that the over emphasis on lonely older people stems from a subtle form of ageism. We were keen that any Bromford work avoids perpetuating unjustified negative beliefs about older adults. 

When I was a young graduate student they used to call depression ‘the common cold of late life.’ They believed everyone in late life was depressed. But the opposite is true. Depression gets much less common as we look at older age groups.
— Dr. Paul Chafetz

This thinking reflects the experience of colleagues conducting our various community pilots - which have shown us that young and middle aged people are just as likely to experience a sense of disconnection. 

Accordingly our first lesson is that any approach should focus on all members of a community - and avoid over emphasising 'problem' age groups.

Tomorrow: A whole system approach to loneliness