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SOME elderly people are prone to developing sudden feelings of loneliness if left alone during the Songkran holidays, experts said while urging people to reach out to their ageing family members.
“Research shows that sudden feelings of loneliness strike one in 10 people aged over 65 and one in two people aged over 80,” said Squadron Leader Dr Boonruang Triruangworawat, director-general of the Mental Health Department yesterday.
He said if the feelings of loneliness are prolonged, people are at risk of developing several health problems, including hypertension and sleep disorders.
Boonruang urged people to pay attention to the dangers of feeling lonely and to the elderly in their families.
A recent survey by Suan Dusit Poll found that what the elderly want most from Songkran is a family get-together. This year’s Songkran holidays in Thailand run from yesterday to next Monday.
Boonruang said if people are unable to visit their elderly family members in their home provinces during Songkran, they should at least make a phone call to let them know they are loved and missed.
Suda Wongsawas, a senior official at the Mental Health Department, meanwhile advised people to not feel upset if family members could not visit during Songkran.
“Please try to understand the reasons why they cannot come,” she said. “Do not compare your family with others. And do not stay alone. Try joining Songkran activities in your communities,” she said.
Suda suggested that local communities organise special activities for their residents during Songkran.
She added that people could also call the Mental Health Department’s Hotline 1323 for advice if they felt unhappy.
“It’s a toll-free number and we provide services round-the-clock,” Suda said. There are more than 10.5 million elderly people in the country.
Up to 880,000 elderly people lived alone, according to a 2014 survey conducted by the National Statistical Office.
Based on such statistics, it was estimated that up to 47,000 elderly Thais would spend their final moments all alone each year.