A business that was created in a bid to combat loneliness and isolation has marked its one year anniversary, as Age UK revealed that 1.9 million older people feel ignored or invisible.
Just Company was launched last year by Fran Frankland and Vivienne Pike, both of Kirkby Lonsdale, following personal experiences with elderly family members. The duo also recently partnered with BMI Healthcare UK, which means Just Company will be included in discharge recommendations following hospital stays.
Friends and business partners Fran and Vivienne are keen to spread the word about the benefits of companionship, as poignant figures recently released by Age UK reveal that 3.6 million older people in the UK live alone (of whom 2 million are aged 75+). According to the statistics, 1.9 million older people often feel ignored or invisible, and shockingly, loneliness can be as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Fran said: “We’re so pleased to be celebrating Just Company’s first anniversary. Just Company is going from strength to strength – helping older people to get out and about, while working to improve physical and mental health. We’re expanding rapidly, seeing an exponential increase in enquiries, leading to recruiting a significant number of companions to meet local need.
“What really makes Just Company stand out from the crowd is our flexibility and respect for our clients. The families of our clients have often told us how reassured they feel that their loved one is getting out and about, and is laughing and enjoying life again. We believe life is for living, regardless of your age, and it’s truly wonderful to see how our clients are benefiting from safe and caring companionship.”
Vivienne added: “The recent statistics released by Age UK are upsetting to read, but they demonstrate just how widespread loneliness in the elderly community is. Loneliness is associated with a host of mental health problems, particularly the heightened risk of depression, and the various research that says people with a high degree of loneliness are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s.”
Just Company is based in Kirkby Lonsdale, but their client base covers Cumbria and North Lancashire. The companionship services include accompanied outings, events and day trips.
Vivienne said: “A number of our clients have told us that television or pets are their main form of company, or that they can go for days or weeks without speaking to somebody else – this is heart-breaking and is a serious problem in society. Even if they do have family living close by, families can feel guilty about not having the time to be able to take them out. This is exactly why we launched Just Company, to provide companionship to elderly people who may feel isolated or lonely, or have simply lost confidence in maintaining their independence.”