Loneliness is one of the most common non-medical issues for the elderly. It is always preferable that a senior person remains in their own home for as long as possible before needing long-term care in a hospital or a residential home. However, when a partner passes away and they are left alone, it often means a complete change of lifestyle. As friends also pass away and people become less mobile, it becomes more difficult to be sociable and get out and about. Mental wellbeing is just as essential for the elderly as their physical health, so it’s important to prevent loneliness.
Take Advantage of Technology
Technology is very accessible and requires no special skills. An elderly person is just as capable of using a laptop, tablet, or smartphone as a teenager. With help to set things up and a little instruction, the world can be opened up and loneliness prevented. Phones can be used, not just for emergencies, but to stay in touch with family and friends. Video calling is a great way for all ages to stay connected – being able to see faces while conversing is much more rewarding and with Skype, Facetime, and more, an elderly person can keep in regular contact with grandchildren (who are of the digital generation) and family who are far away, even overseas. Phones and computers can also be used to share photos and videos. So, the elderly can keep up with what’s going on in their familial and social circles and not feel left out or isolated.
Have a live-in carer
According to Helping Hands Home Care, social isolation has been demonstrated to lead to numerous detrimental health effects in the elderly. Conclusively, as a person becomes less mobile and finds it more difficult to manage everyday tasks, a 24-hour carer at home is a viable solution. There are many benefits to having a live in carer other than it enabling the patient to stay in their own home. A live-in carer will not only assist in everyday living and help with medical treatments and medication; they also provide companionship. Being able to converse with someone or just have a presence around the house is reassuring and comforting.
Clubs, Groups, and Societies
Social interaction should be encouraged. There are countless numbers of groups and clubs that get together on a regular basis. There might be a society for a particular area of interest or a day centre where a group of similarly aged people get together for a chat and catch up.
There are many ways to find an activity or group of interest:
Community notices in local free papers often have advertisements
Notice boards on church/community halls offer a wide variety of events
Supermarkets have display boards that offer a range of options to stay social
The local library may host book clubs and other social services
A befriending scheme offers lonely and isolated people companionship and emotional support. One of the most accessible schemes in the UK is operated by Age UK. There are two types of befriending volunteers. In the “Call-in-time” scheme, an elderly person is matched with someone who will
telephone them on a regular basis. In the “face to face” scheme, a volunteer visits the individual in their own home, building up a relationship over time. The one-to-one contact is regular and is welcomed by someone who would otherwise feel alone or isolated. The befriender may also accompany their elderly friend on trips or activities or undertake small errands. The volunteers can be of any age. Age has never shown to be a barrier in combating loneliness and isolation, and these schemes have enjoyed great success and built fruitful relationships with rewards to both parties.
Have a Pet
They may not be able to talk, but a cat or a dog provides companionship to a person who lives alone. They are also proven to be mood boosting, helping stave off depression and stress. Having to care for a pet can also give an elderly person a sense of purpose. Having a dog helps keep you healthy. A dog needs a walk and that means that the owner gets regular, gentle exercise. It also requires that the dog owner has to go outside on a regular basis, which also has benefits. Fresh air and sunshine always provide a mood boost as well as being essential for topping up vitamin D levels. In the UK, over 3.6 million older people live alone, 2 million of them being over the age of 75. Living alone does not have to mean being lonely.
Explore your options and make sure you reach out to anyone who may be hiding their loneliness.
Written by our guest writer Rebecca Clarke for First Aid for Life
Rebecca is a writer, hiker and member of The Writers Guild
First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.
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