Good practices

Sharing is caring: good practices to tackle loneliness in older people

There are already many good practices in our Euroregion to combat loneliness among older people. One of our tasks during this project is to collect them and share them with others. This page will be updated throughout the project.

Intergenerational service

In Liège (Belgium), there are a total of 8 intergenerational houses. The aim of these houses is to (re)create social links in the neighborhoods. These intergenerational houses are scattered throughout the different districts of the city. Concretely, they offer various activities, different in each intergenerational house. For example, activities between seniors and children (ex: creative hobbies, storytelling, etc). The same group of children (6-12 years old)/seniors meet every week in order to create strong bonds and a relationship of trust. In other cases, introductory workshops in new technologies, walks, breakfasts or simply “coffee and talk” are organized for older people.

The activities are different in each intergenerational house, as are the intergenerational contacts: children, adolescents (theater workshops for example) or adults. Despite these differences, the goal is the same each time: to build new bonds of solidarity.

Read more about this good practice.

A network of volunteers for teleassistance

When an older person, in Wallonia or Brussels, wishes to remain at home in complete autonomy, he or she can call on Vitatel. This will enable them to receive assistance by pressing a button attached to a pendant, in case they need help. To implement this system, they must be able to propose three referents to contact in case of need. But what can be done when the network of referents is limited or non-existent?
Eneo Verviers, MC Verviers Eupen, Vitatel and “Aide et Soins à Domicile” (ASD) of Verviers, have joined forces to create a network of volunteer contact persons. These volunteers follow a two-day training course with health professionals. They undertake to be the link between the central service, a health worker and the elderly person. They meet the elderly person regularly, support his or her needs and assist in daily life. This voluntary work enables the elderly person to stay at home as long as possible and creates social links.

For more information, please write to

Young adopts Old

The Adoption project (Dutch Adoptieproject: Jong adopteert Oud) is an intergenerational project developed by the Alzheimer Centre Limburg (ACL; Maastricht University) in which children from primary school (aged 9-12) visit people with dementia who are living in a nursing home. The goals of the Adoption project are to:

  • Reduce the taboo around dementia;
  • Educate children about understanding the world of people with dementia;
  • Enhance social participation of people with dementia living in a care home.

In the Adoption project, a connection is made between a primary school and nearby nursing home. Before visiting the people with dementia, children receive a guest lecture about the brains and dementia. After the guest lecture, children visit the people with dementia in small groups and undertake activities together. Activities include for instance cooking together, dancing, or painting (among many other). Experiences from practice show to be very positive, and we see long-term, structural collaborations between primary schools and care institutions. In 2018, Alzheimer Nederland (AN) embraced this project, and together ACL and AN are working on national implementation. Read more about this good practice.

Neighbourhood companions (Dutch: Buurtgezellen, region: Belgian Limburg)

In 2014 the municipality of Neerpelt (now called Pelt) started, in cooperation with RIMO Limburg, to track down care needs among a growing group of older people. This initiative was part of the neighborhood-oriented care. Teams of volunteers who visited the older people came to the conclusion that there was regularly a demand for company. Just someone to have a cup of coffee with. This is how the project ‘Neighborhood Companions’ is born.

The principle is simple: the municipality’s coordinator for neighborhood-oriented care searches a neighborhood companion. As soon as there is a match the neighbor and neighborhood companion meet each other spontaneously and take the initiative to meet themselves. The neighborhood companion supports the neighbor with visits or by carrying out small tasks. It is not the intention that the neighborhood companion replaces professional help. A one-to-one relationship is vulnerable. It has to click between the two people and that is not always guaranteed. That is why small networks of neighbors are stimulated. The neighborhood companion is then the initiator of bringing together a few neighbors once or several times a week for a joint activity. This can be a weekly lunch, going to the market together, playing cards. In short, a local partner makes a world of difference for a lonely neighbor.

Visit this website (in Dutch) if you would like to know more about the caring neighborhoods that RIMO Limburg (now called:  SAAMO Limburg) strives for.

“Christine, 84, and Luise, 28, met through the Freunde alter Menschen e.V., they have a real friendship.”

Freunde alter Menschen e.V. Visiting partnerships between young and old

Nobody wants to live alone and isolated. But this is exactly the sad reality for many very old people. For mobile and mentally fit people, there are various ways to establish social contacts. For old people, who are often no longer so mobile, this is more difficult. For them, professional carers or assistants are often the only contact with the outside world. There is usually no time for a conversation, a walk or for things that make life more human and warmer.

The german association Freunde alter Menschen e.V. has set itself the mission to save old, lonely people from loneliness and isolation. They create social contacts and personal encounters so that hope and joy of life can return. A central component of the commitment are visiting partnerships, which have so far been arranged in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Frankfurt am Main and Munich. Volunteers of the association regularly visit an older person at home or in a nursing home. Often, friendships develop that last a lifetime. The commitment focuses on people who are often older than 75, live in isolation and are no longer as mobile. Freunde alter Menschen e.V. is part of an international volunteer organization.

Read more about this good practice. For more information, please email

Short film Einzaam

The municipality of Beekdaelen (South Limburg, The Netherlands) is active with partners and volunteers in tackling loneliness. An approach aimed at all citizens and all age groups. One of the great examples is ‘Einzaam’.

‘Einzaam’ is a short film by Paul Haans, and shows a heartwarming story that takes place between 2 lonely people from 2 generations. The film is intended to make young and old aware that loneliness is a common problem and often takes place behind closed doors, but also that sometimes small gestures can make a big differende. The film was made through a collaboration between filmmakers Paul Haans and Sascha Wensveen and the theatre association Voor ‘t Voetlicht from Puth, and with the support of the municipality of Beekdaelen. The filming took place in August 2021 in Puth (municipality of Beekdaelen) with local actors. The film premiered on October 2, 2021, during the Week against Loneliness.

You can watch the Dutch short film here.

Do you have a good practice you would like to share? Then be sure to let us know via: