The negative impacts of eating alone

Hi everyone, Jack here! Hope all is well.

Last week on our social media platforms we shared a very topical article. The article focused on the specific concern of eating alone among the elderly and its negative health consequences.  As we all know, eating for many of us is one of the most basic of human social interactions; sharing a meal can be a source of bonding, and an opportunity to discuss our days, whether good or bad. However, when it comes to the ageing population, they are often faced with a period of great change; for example, the likes of divorce and bereavement are common. Therefore, there is often nobody for them to share meals with, or to help them cook if they need assistance. In fact, an estimated 1 in 6 over 70s eat alone daily (Source: Huffington Post).

The truth about eating alone

What is more, many elderly individuals experience a deteriorating sense of appetite and reduced ability in their cooking skills. As a result, a lot skip meals, or replace them for junk/snack foods of poor nutritional value. In fact, over 700,000 individuals over 70 have admitted to skipping meals at least 7 or more times a week! (Source: Huffington Post).

Consequently, there is an arguable epidemic of malnutrition among the older population. Such malnutrition is accompanied by allied health problems such as brittle bones, and a weakened immune system. Worryingly, weight loss among the elderly is often taken for granted as a common feature of the ageing process; however, more commonly it could be a sign of the aforementioned malnutrition resulting from loneliness. It is thus a cause for intervention.

 Urge for action

There has been a call from the UK government to place more of an effort on stepping in and accompanying those elderly individuals who you feel may be alone and struggling to achieve a balanced meal. Moreover, Sam Dick, Director of ‘Campaign to End Loneliness’ concurs by adding that, “eating together is one of the best ways to connect, which is vital for health and wellbeing.”

How we hope to help

Taking all of the above on board, here at Cyril Flint Befrienders we are taking our own stance and aim in the coming months to run a monthly dinner club event. This provides the opportunity for some of our befriendees and their volunteer befrienders to come together and share a hot meal in a social setting. It also subsequently allows for everyone to possibly bond over similar situations, or any hobbies they may have in common.

How you can get involved

The main thing to take away from all this is that loneliness and social isolation, despite being a naturally sad occurrence in our society, can also be a killer when it comes to the older generation. The effect of both on one’s health is thought to be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Source: Cambridge University). It is important therefore that we continue to do the work we do to help combat these issues. This can only happen with sufficient funds however. If you feel you are up for a challenge, or having some time to offer, why not fund raise in some way to support the charity?

If you are interested, or have any ideas for an event you would like to hold but feel you need some support, then feel free to contact my colleague Sam (Fundraising Coordinator) at: samantha.kaye[email protected].

Until next time, stay safe and keep an eye out for the most vulnerable in your local area,