Caring for and helping someone who is lonely | ƹƵ


Skip to content
Please donate

Caring for someone who's lonely

If you look after someone who you think might be struggling with feelings of loneliness, let us help you find the best way to support them.

Why might someone be feeling lonely?

There are many reasons why someone might be feeling lonely. Or that might be no clear reason for why they’re feeling the way they are. A change in their circumstances is likely to cause feelings of loneliness, such as:

  • losing a loved one
  • moving away from friends and family
  • losing the social contact and enjoyment they used to get from work
  • experiencing health problems that make it difficult for them to go out and do the things they enjoy.

But there may not be a reason at all. Someone can still feel lonely despite being surrounded by friends and family.

How can you tell if someone is feeling lonely?

It can be really difficult for anyone to admit they’re feeling lonely and it can be even harder to ask for help. Pride and independence are important for a lot of us, but these things can feel even more important as we get older. We all go through ups and downs, which can make it difficult to spot a longer-term problem. But there are some clues that could indicate a person is feeling lonely, these include someone:

  • having a significant change in their routine (e.g. getting up a lot later)
  • neglecting their appearance or personal hygiene
  • not eating properly
  • putting themselves down
  • not being themselves.

You may spot signs that someone is lonely before the person you care about does or before they are able to talk about it. 

Or you may find it hard to admit that you think someone you care about is lonely. You might not want to think of them as feeling low or you might feel guilty. But recognising someone is lonely can help you start to help them.

Patricia's story

Patricia talks about how her life changed when she fell ill and how the ƹƵ befriending service helped get her back on track.

What can I do to help?

Some people may be aware they're lonely, but just not know what they can about it. If you suspect someone you know may be lonely, you can help by:

  • Being there. Simply being there for them can let them know that someone cares. Don't be afraid to ask them how they are feeling or if there's anything you can do to help. Having someone who is willing to listen could be a great comfort.
  • Being patient. When someone's lonely, particularly if it's associated with poor mental health or physical health, they may get irritable or feel misunderstood by others. You may need to offer gentle assurance.
  • Encouraging and supporting them. Reassure them that it's possible to feel better with the right help. They may need some support to make new social connections or access services designed to tackle loneliness.

It may be helpful if you point them in the direction of our befriending services, such as ƹƵ's Telephone Friendship Service and face-to-face befriending at local ƹƵs.

Find out about befriending services at your local ƹƵ


  • Please enter a valid postcode

Looking after yourself

When you’re caring for someone it’s easy to overlook your own needs. But looking after yourself is important and can help you manage better with your caring role.

Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local ƹƵs.


Last updated: Apr 10 2024

You might also be interested in...

Feeling lonely

If you're feeling lonely, remember you're not alone. Feeling lonely doesn’t necessarily mean you have no one nearby....

Talking helps

If you’re feeling low or out of sorts, talking is often the best way to start feeling better.

Relationships and family

As we get older, relationships can change and you may begin to lose loved ones. While there's no one way to deal with...

It's not just your age

Getting older can bring with it some challenges. But feeling down isn’t a natural part of ageing.

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top