Feeling isolated? We've got some communication tips

Ashley
man sitting on a bench by himself

Coping with the effects of stroke can sometimes be an isolating and lonely experience. But it's important to remember you’re not alone.

Many stroke survivors report feeling isolated during their recovery. In our video about Isolation after stroke, Andy and Rachel both talk about feeling isolated after leaving hospital.

"I had feelings of isolation on leaving hospital because I thought no one understood. I thought I was the only person it had happened to..."

- Rachel

The Covid-19 pandemic has also worsened these feelings of isolation for many. This was because people were unable to work or socialise as they had been able to before.

In this blog, we're going to talk about the different ways you can connect with other people.

Remember, it's important to start small. If you're struggling with isolation and/or loneliness, start with one or two things. You can then build up to other activities as you gain in confidence.

Telephone

Sometimes you just want to chat with someone. A conversation to chat about how you're doing and what the other person has been up to.

This kind of conversation can go a long way towards reducing feelings of isolation.

Having calls with family and friends is a great way for some low key socialisation. Why not try scheduling a weekly or monthly phone call? You can even do this with different family members or friends. That way, you've always got a conversation to look forward to.

But sometimes you want to chat with someone who understands what you're going through. To help, we have two telephone services here at the Stroke Association:

  • Helpline - Call our Helpline on 0303 3033 100 to talk to someone who understands what a stroke means. We’re here to listen and can provide more information on the support available.
  • Here For You - This is our telephone service that offers stroke survivors a weekly, 30-minute call with trained volunteers. You can sign up by filling out the online form or calling our Helpline.

And there are, of course, other telephone support services available outside of the Stroke Association:

  • SupportLine offers confidential emotional support to anyone of any age. Call SupportLine on 01708 765 200.
  • Friendship and advice are available for older people through The Silver Line Helpline. Call them on 0800 4 70 80 90.
  • Different Strokes offers a service for stroke survivors aged 16-25. Contact 0345 130 7172 for more.

Online

Not everyone enjoys or feels up to talking on the phone all the time. The Internet is a great way to stay connected with people. There are many ways you can use the Internet to reduce feelings of isolation.

Video calling is a great way to connect with people online. You can use video chat to connect with family and friends. This can be a bit more engaging than talking on the phone.

There are also online stroke activities offered through the Stroke Association. If you aren't confident using these video chat apps, our guide to video calling is useful for everyone. It's particularly helpful for people with aphasia.

My Stroke Guide also has a forum. You can discuss your recovery, normal life, and more with other stroke survivors. You might find it helpful to discuss how you’re feeling with others or hear their stories. It’s free and easy to register.

Social media can be an easy way to stay connected with friends, family, other stroke survivors, etc,. There are so many groups and communities on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites.

But remember to be careful with your personal data whenever you're online. We have a few tips to keep you safe if you aren't sure.

In person

Meeting people face to face can do a lot to reduce feelings of isolation. You pick up on so much more body language and feelings of togetherness than you do when online or on the phone.

Stroke groups are a great way to connect with other stroke survivors. You can talk about your recovery with people who understand what you're going though. You can find out about stroke groups in your area from our website here.

And of course, regular meet ups with family and friends can make a huge difference. Even a coffee or a short walk in a nearby park. Try to schedule these ahead of time. That way you have time to make any arrangements and you have something to look forward to.

Feelings of isolation and loneliness can be bad for your mental and physical health. If you worry about how your feelings are impacting your health, please speak with your GP.

We also have more recommendations and links to external resources on our main managing loneliness and isolation page.

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