Live Long and Master Aging podcast

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42

Sophie Andrews

Tackling the scourge of loneliness among the elderly

Loneliness is a silent epidemic affecting elderly populations. Social isolation shortens lives and exacerbates the onset of disease in millions of people, around the world. In the UK, The Silver Line, a free and confidential telephone hotline, was established in 2012 to offer information, friendship and advice to older people. Founded by the British television presenter Esther Rantzen, the 24-hour service also offers help to those suffering abuse and neglect. The Silver Line is run by Sophie Andrews, who took on the role after serving as the national chairman for the suicide prevention line, Samaritans. Billed as a ‘helpline hero,’ Sophie spoke about her work and life experiences at the 2017 TEDMED conference in La Quinta, California. In this in-depth interview, recorded at the conference, she discusses the harrowing abuse she experienced as a child and how it led to a career of service, offering help to others. Sophie also explains why she prefers to live for the moment, than dwell on her own longevity.


Notes and quotes 

Sophie Andrews spoke to LLAMA host Peter Bowes at the 2017 TEDMED conference in La Quinta, near Palm Springs, California. Her TED talk will be published on the TEDMED site in the next few months.
“Loneliness cuts across all demographics. It’s not about how big your bank balance is, it’s not about your background, it’s not about your education – it cuts across everything and there is the stigma of talking about it.”
The Silver Line provides three functions to support older people
  • A befriending service to help combat loneliness
  • A link to the many services around the UK to help older people
  • Support and empowerment for people suffering from abuse and neglect
  • In the UK The Silver Line helpline is 0800 4 70 80 90
Sophie documented her years of abuse, self-harm and suicidal misery in her 2009 autobiography, Scarred. “She was a slave to her father and pain was her only escape.”
“One question I’ve asked from time to time with people who’ve been very suicidal … is:  ‘Do you want to be dead forever or would you want to be dead for now?'”
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