Healthy Loneliness

Healthy Loneliness project is intended to empower citizens in loneliness situation through formative and informative activities that help them to understand, focus and visualize the most positive point of view of their situation, thus promoting their (physical and mental) health status.

Funded by EIT Health under the Campus pillar, different activities happened along 2019 and 2020 in Coimbra, Lodz, Paris, Valencia and virtually involving the direct participation of seniors in loneliness, seniors in risk of loneliness and stakeholders.

The main objective of the project was to achieve a better knowledge and understanding of the current situation of seniors’ loneliness in urban environments, identifying causes or reasons of loneliness, their consequences and needs that existing services and solutions promoted by cities are not covering. After a process of co-creation sessions, the consortium defined the guiding principles of the educational activities based on the specific needs of seniors in loneliness and the actors who work form policy making, healthcare organizations, NGOs and the community. These educational actions enabled the improvement of seniors’ quality of life and self-esteem and reinforced the positive points of living alone.

The project also aimed to raise awareness among municipalities and policy makers on possible actions to tackle loneliness. To this end, the Reference Site Collaborative Network led the edition of a Manifesto to Manifesto for Addressing and Reducing Older Adults Loneliness In Europe, which recognising the impact loneliness has on the health and mental or psychological well-being of older citizens and the vulnerable made a call to transform health and care services and intervention programmes to be more proactive and responsive.

After the project’s implementation, the consortium came to conclude that there is no single recipe to address isolation, even from a training perspective. The context of municipality is very important to guarantee the success and sustainability of the interventions, and moreover, the importance of the closest entities to the elderly as primary care centres to prescribe training activities. It can happen through primary care centres or through associations, but it’s important that activities are prescribed to the elderly by already known and confident entities.

The activities allowed having a better vision of main indicators and reasons of seniors’ loneliness in big cities. The main conclusion of this project showed that the best and common solution agreed for breaking loneliness is the importance of being active and social involved through leisure and cultural activities in group, having networks of friends and families, and also continuing having personal projects and dreams. Finally, another helpful instrument of socialization can be the use of ICT devices on a daily basis (social networks, informing themselves about the activities, using robots).