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We all know how it feels when you just need someone to chat to, to share something funny with or have a little grumble when life throws its worst at you.

Many older people, in particular, are vulnerable to social isolation or loneliness, perhaps because their family has moved away or their partner and friends have died. Lack of transport, health problems or a low income may contribute to the problem.

Age UK has estimated that over a million older people in the UK go for a month or more without seeing or speaking to anyone.

Of course, loneliness can affect anyone of any age; a change in circumstances can result in a once sociable person becoming someone who goes days or even longer without any human contact.

Physical injury, a prolonged period of illness or a medical condition like depression or dementia can frequently cut someone off from the outside world.

If you are looking after someone, you may feel isolated in your caring role and need a break to go out and see friends.

If you are feeling lonely, it’s important to tell someone how you feel. There is a range of befriending schemes available depending on your age and where you live (not all schemes are available everywhere in Wales).

Unsurprisingly, many people are now seeking support from new friends they make online. The advantages are obvious: you can link up with people who are going through similar experiences as you, no matter where they live in the world. Many UK charities have set up forums where disabled and older people can support one another without leaving their homes. Always remember to stay safe online and do not share your personal details with strangers.

Sometimes just hearing someone’s voice at the end of the telephone is enough. Many charities run national helplines which are staffed by volunteers who are waiting for your call. Some are for specific user groups, e.g. The Silver Line is a free confidential helpline for older people.

Last updated: 03/05/2016