Living with Disability: Loneliness Beats Them All

Disable people are the same as everyone else. The problem comes in when the person who was taking care of them is not around. When they are gone it seems the whole world crumbles. Loneliness is felt and there is nothing as bad as the feeling that no one else cares.

A few years ago, a child born with a handicapping condition was not expected to live very long. Today, people with congenital or acquired disabilities are living near normal life spans. Unfortunately, when family members, particularly parents who have been the primary caregivers, die or become ill, the person with a disability is placed in a precarious situation. Very few families with a disabled member make adequate plans for this inevitable time.

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The loneliness suffered by people living with disability is not a joke. It is quite real. It is hard to keep friends or even have a girlfriend. Who will take care of you when they are even too busy to interact with you?

A disability charity has found that a quarter of disabled people feel lonely on a typical day. What can be done to remedy this?

“This past year has been the loneliest of my life,” says Ian Treherne from Southend in Essex. The 36-year-old has had a hearing impairment his whole life but has been losing his eyesight recently due to retinitis pigmentosa. He says he now finds it difficult to sustain friendships.

“I lost my driving licence and I’m single, so I don’t have a girlfriend who can support me,” he says. His sight loss has left him with less confidence moving around Southend by himself and he feels “reclusive” and “cut off” as a result.

A significant number of disabled people report they have similar feelings. A recent survey by the deaf-blind charity Sense found that 23% of disabled respondents feel lonely on a typical day.


Like Treherne, wheelchair user Hayley Reed from Rossendale in Lancashire says that the struggle to get out and about makes it difficult to visit her friends regularly.

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disablati2As much as there are buildings that consider the disabled there are some which don’t. Most of the historic buildings are still in the original format of construction thus limiting visitors on wheelchairs from accessing the site.

Disabled access standards in the past were not as well enforced or widespread as they are today and accessing historic buildings can be a serious issue for disabled people. People with disabilities who live in older towns and cities, such as in Europe and the UK, can find themselves struggling to access some of the public heritage buildings and homes in their town.

Many disabled people have found themselves dismayed upon wanting to visit a historic building, only to find a steep flight of stairs leading up to a narrow entrance door. This style of elevated entrance has been a long standing tradition within Western Architecture, but it is completely inaccessible to most disabled people. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t really realize that their building design excludes a lot of people. They might think that they don’t need to worry about accessibility, since they don’t have any disabled customers. However, this is a self-fulfilling prophesy and they are not aware of the potential visitors that they are missing out on.

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