this image shows the late Dame Esther Ranzen holding an old fashioned telephone to her ear

The Silver Line


Esther on the phone

The Silver Line

The founder of The Silver Line Dame Esther Rantzen shared that she was feeling deeply lonely.

Following the death of her husband Desmond Wilcox, Esther found herself alone for the first time. She was 71.

She shared her experience in The Daily Mail and was inundated with responses from older people who felt she was telling their story too.

In 2012, Esther received a letter from someone who described her experience of living alone as an older person. The writer explained how despite being a bubbly, positive person with family nearby, she’d often go days without speaking to anyone. She was afraid of burdening others and described her struggle with isolation and intense loneliness.

The taboo of loneliness.

Esther was moved by the writers’ experience.  She felt it was wrong that someone had to put up with those feelings for simply being older and living alone. Why should being lonely be taboo? Subsequently, Esther spoke to other organisations and decided to establish a phone line service. The Silver Line.

The Silver Line Helpline opened its lines to older people across the UK in November 2013. Since its first call, its dedicated team of call handlers have spoken to millions of elderly people.

The function of the Silver Line.

The Silver Line Helpline has three functions to support older people:

  • Firstly it offers a vital befriending service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,
  • Secondly, it offers a sign-posting service to callers. It can refer people to a variety of services that exist around the country

The Silver Line is there to help callers who have been victims of abuse and neglect, signposting them to relevant agencies.

The danger of loneliness.

Loneliness has been linked to reduced lifespan.  It causes depression which can increase the risk of dementia and other physical illnesses. Some people don’t eat well leading to malnutrition. Some people use alcohol to dull the pain they feel.

Loneliness in old age is only set to increase as we all live longer and our loved ones have busy lives often working two jobs to make ends meet. Who knows when we may need some support? The Silver Line phone number is 0800 470 80 90




Award-winning blogger and former care columnist for Devon Life magazine. I am passionate about helping elderly people and people with dementia live purposeful and independent lives.
Designer of the Dementia Assistance Card and Points Of Light award recipient, Caron hopes to help carers when resources are limited and demand is ever-increasing. I am here to support you.


  1. Hi Lorraine,

    Many thanks for your kind comments. I agree with your observations about obesity and the miss-use of food so to speak.
    I know from personal experience that an individual can use food as a control element when other parts of life feel out of control. I could eat less and less because I controlled what went in my mouth.I was also very overweight for a period but can now happily say I am healthy and happy and eat amazingly well.

    I totally agree that we are designed to have company and it is a well known fact that eating a meal with others increases appetite in both the elderly and young children. As you enjoyed my post please sign up for my newsletter. It comes to you each Friday and is a way we can keep stay in touch.

    Thanks again Lorraine.
    Best Wishes,

  2. Hi Caron,

    I was touched by your journey and commitment to caring for the elderly. I agree that loneliness should be treated with the same urgency as obesity.

    I work with people who are overweight/obese and generally my clients are 45 to 55 or older, but no matter what their age I have noticed that lonely people often don’t care as much about their diet as they should and often over or under eat due to being lonely. I strongly believe that we are a species that lives best in groups and isolation is hard on the mind and body.

    Congratulations on speaking out, I look forward to reading more of your posts.


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