Alan Hill is not surprised one in four Australians struggle with loneliness. After all, he is one of them.
“Being alone can hurt,” says the 89-year-old who finds himself living on his own and a long way from his loved ones in the twilight years of his life.
“I do my best to stay positive but there are days when it gets on top of me. I’ll lay around, sleep more than I should, go to bed early. Sometimes I’ll just sit on the veranda and look at the sky. Some people enjoy their own company but I don’t like being by myself.
“It’s not nice being on your own.”
Loneliness a crippling epidemic
In many ways, Alan epitomises the loneliness epidemic that is sweeping Australia.
He is a sociable man with a restricted social network. His failing eyesight has forced him to give up the driver’s licence that gave him freedom. His family is scattered across the country, with his nearest son still an hour’s drive away. He misses his ex-wife more than words can say.
“I really loved that woman,” Alan says of his second wife.
“We fell in love, got married and were together about a decade. They were some beautiful years but for some reason she decided she wanted a change. That was tough stuff - losing her – and I’ve been on my own ever since.
“When you’ve had someone special and all of a sudden they’re not there, it’s pretty hard to know what to do with yourself. I’d love to still be sharing my life with someone. You don’t have to talk all the time – just having someone beside you is nice.”
Helping people live happier, healthier lives
At Be Someone For Someone, we are addressing the growing issue of loneliness in Australia and helping people of all ages live happier, healthier lives.
Founded by leading provider of people care, Feros Care, we are committed to raising awareness of the impacts of loneliness, helping people to enjoy social connections with others as advocating for social reform to tackle loneliness systemically.
Alan is also the beneficiary of Be Someone For Someone’s commitment to implementing and scaling tools and programs that create ways for people to connect with each other in a meaningful way.
Overcoming loneliness through greater social connection
Through one such program, In Great Company, Alan has formed a close friendship with one of the many volunteers who give up a few hours each week to bring smiles to the faces of seniors seeking companionship.
Along with regularly chatting on the phone, they catch up once a week for a day filled with long drives, conversation and plenty of laughter.
“The days he visits can’t come quick enough,” Alan says.
“I come home feeling great for the rest of the day and already looking forward to his next visit.”
A proud man, Alan initially hesitated before speaking publicly about the impact of loneliness on his life. Then he remembered he was not alone.
“I was unsure about sharing my story but if this helps one person break the cycle of loneliness, it’s worth every bit,” he says.
“I know people who don’t see anyone anymore but you need to do your best to still be part of a community. I’ve still got plenty of drive and will get on my electric scooter to get out and about.
“You’ve just got to help yourself while you can because the longer you leave it, the harder it gets.”