I created this article about how we can improve social isolation in response to Wendy’s comment on my last YouTube video.
“Where do I start?!!!! Being a member of the disabled community, I’d like to see our society looking after its most vulnerable people in a way that doesn’t look down on them but includes them as valuable members of our society as a whole. After lockdown, maybe people might now see that being stuck at home because of our condition, is not a choice but a necessity and how isolating it can be. Lockdown lasted months. For some, lockdown is every single day. How can we use the community groups that very quickly popped up, to keep helping out the elderly and vulnerable in our communities?”
Watch my video response here, or if you prefer to read my response please continue reading underneath this video:
Social isolation is something that is very close to my heart and I especially relate to Wendy’s comment above where she feels that every day is like lock down for her. Perhaps people will be more aware of what social isolation feels like now they have been through it themselves. Is that true for you? Now that you’ve been through your own lockdown do you better appreciate what it must be like for others who live in lockdown permanently?
One of the things that you perhaps don’t know about my back story (and maybe now is the time to tell it), is that I used to be a full on businessman before I do what I do now. I had seven businesses going at the same time in a wide number of different areas. I decided around 7 years ago to take some time off because I was becoming burned out. It was during that time that I made a conscious decision to become the main carer for my Mother and Father.
At first it meant taking them to appointments, making them meals and everyday things like that. But over the next two and a half years they became worse, much worse. I became their 24 hour a day carer and it got to the point where I was suffering so much social isolation that I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore.
I knew what I had been and I knew what I had been capable of. Some of my companies were care companies, so I thought I had come to this venture caring for my parents with my A game. I thought I knew how to do this stuff inside out so it wouldn’t be difficult to do. What I hadn’t realised was how debilitating constant social isolation is, especially if the only people you see are all people who are ill or unable to communicate effectively with you.
By the time my mother died in 2014 I was pretty much on my last legs. I’d actually given up all of my businesses and I walked away from everything. Then after my mother died, my father very rapidly went downhill with dementia and that was a whole different ballgame for me.
For the next three years I hardly got more than two hours sleep at a stretch and by the end of that I was socially isolated and pretty much suicidal. I was agoraphobic. I had no self confidence. I was unable to hold a conversation with anybody and I had the memory of a goldfish. I was completely traumatised and this is one of the spiriting factors that drove me to create Drive Change For Good. If it can happen to me when I was bringing my A Game to the mix as a sharp intelligent person with years of experience in the care industry, then there must be many thousands of people whose lives are being irreparably destroyed because they’re caring for somebody, or because they’re socially isolated.
How many cases of early onset dementia do we deal with as a society, because they’ve got no reason to continue? They live on their own by themselves and they don’t talk to anybody for long periods of time. They don’t have friends or family, so what happens is they just lose the cognitive ability to live a decent quality of life. I believe that this is fundamentally and morally wrong when we have the technology nowadays to be able to get somebody face to face with someone they know and trust 24 hours a day.
I believe that with the right funding in place one of my pilot projects will do just that. It will cut down social isolation across the board and it will enable people to live far more positive and fulfilling lives. Once people have a social circle and social meaning to their lives they become more creative. They want to do more. You and I know this already, but many millions of other people don’t and that’s part of our education piece that is so critically needed.
We’re coming out of lockdown now, so let’s not allow people to remain alone suffering social isolation in silence. Let’s not allow it to go back to how it was. Let us create the awareness so that local authorities have to take action and say ‘Oh, you know, maybe we do need to look at this a different way”.
If you haven’t already subscribed to my YouTube Channel please do that now and help me to spread the word so we can keep this conversation going and Drive Change For Good together.
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I’d love to hear your positive comments about how you would like to see our communities change for the better as we come out of lockdown. I will look forward to reading your comments below.