Dear Patricia Marie,

I am 72 years of age, have no children or partner, and becoming increasingly concerned about what will happen when I can no longer look after myself in my own home. My closest friends have pre-deceased me, and I feel so very alone in this life. I do not know how to go about selling my home, sorting through all my possessions and perhaps moving into a care home. The thought of all of this scares me witless. As my health seems to be deteriorating lately this has been a recurrent anxiety for me. Do you know of any organisations who could help guide me through the process?

Patricia Marie says...

I can fully understand the anxiety you have with regards to making future plans, however, what really saddens me is the loneliness you have been suffering. Your friends have sadly passed, but you are very much here, and need to be enjoying your later years.

Age UK, the largest UK's charity, is dedicated to helping those of mature years. They provide information, support and advice to help get through those difficult times the elderly can experience. Whether you're wanting help regarding property matters, have concerns about the possibility of going into a care home, or having trouble sorting benefits, this charity can assist with all your practical worries. Furthermore, they can put you in touch with your local branch, who could organise for you to join in some of their regular social gatherings, where you could meet others who are in a similar situation to yourself, and hopefully you will soon be able to fully embrace the next chapter of your life, with new found friends.

I also recommend The Silver Line. This free help line was established by Esther Rantzen who wrote about loneliness after the death of her husband in 2002. She described loneliness among the elderly as a "creeping enemy which erodes confidence" and wanted to offer a telephone friendship service for the lonely elderly. This charity organisation provides friendship 24 hours a day, and could organise a befriender to call you regularly - so you would always have someone there for you. Please don't distress yourself any further. Make these calls - the help you are desperately seeking is only a phone call away.

Age UK: 0800 169 6565. Available every day from 8am-7pm. (www.ageuk.org.uk)

The Silver Line: 0800 4 70 80 90. Available 24 hours. (www.the silverline.org.uk)