Campaign launched to combat elderly loneliness during summer

Elderly people sitting on a park bench
Elderly people sitting on a park benchPhoto: MIPImages/DepositPhotos

While the summer is a time of fun and vacation for many people in the Netherlands, it is often a time of loneliness for the country's senior citizens. Research by seniors' organization KBO-PCOB shows that 15 percent of Dutch elderly feel more lonely in the summer than in the rest of the year. To address this, the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport launched a campaign against summer loneliness. 

The campaign has two parts. The first is to encourage elderly people to go out and do something over the summer. The Ministry launched a television advertisement to achieve this. The second is to remind holidaymakers to call or write to their elderly relatives or neighbors at home. Billboards and posters are being spread on social media and posted at seven major border crossings and at Schiphol and Rotterdam The Hague airports. The Ministry also launched a website with tips on how to tackle loneliness. 

KBO-PCOB thinks it's great that the government is encouraging elderly people to break through their loneliness themselves, by going to places for a chat, a cup of coffee or an activity. "But organizations such as community centers or day centers tend to stop activities in the summer", Peter Winkens of the organization said to NOS. "That's exactly what we don't want, that's why we've been calling for years to also organize activities in the summer."

Activities like summer school for the elderly are important, because they need socializing and activities during the summer period, Winkens said to the broadcaster. "Their social environment is on vacation, there is less to do and therefore older people have fewer opportunities to meet. There are also seniors who feel they are in a 'summer depression', which makes them less inclined to go outside."