Lionel Topp: A new lease of life

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Having led a rich and varied life that included serving in the Navy during the Second World War, travelling the world, and then being a member of the Masons for 42 years, Lionel, 94, was then thrust into isolation when he became widowed several years ago.

With many of his friends being too old to enjoy the activities they used to, Lionel found himself spending more and more time on his own, “I had started to get to the stage where going out was becoming too difficult, and I was always worried that there would not be any one there to help me,” Lionel explains.

Having previously had his wife and lifelong friends for support, Lionel found it difficult to deal with the transition of getting older and being alone, resulting in him not only suffering from isolation but also a series of falls in recent years.

After seeing a specialist, Lionel was referred to, and completed, a ‘Falls Prevention Course’, which is run by Saints Foundation in partnership with Age UK in Southampton, before moving on to participate in weekly Generation Gains sessions delivered by the Foundation with funding from Zurich Community Trust.

“I really enjoy coming along to the activity on Friday, and I love the bowling and a nice cup of tea that we have. I feel that I have made some new friends, which at my age is not something that I was expecting to do.”

Lionel attends the Generation Gains session once a week, giving him the opportunity to work on his core fitness and strength as well as having time to socialise with other people of a similar age. Often, this will be the only time during the week Lionel interacts with other people.

Although his health had suffered from falls in recent years, he has regained a lot of his balance through the exercise class, which has allowed him to maintain his independence.

“The Generation Gains programme is something that I would recommend to everyone, it’s been a lifeline to me and I really look forward to Fridays every week. It can be lonely when you live alone, and these sessions can really help people to find a new lease of life and make new friends.”

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