Tips on Tackling Loneliness in the Elderly
As we grow older, people tend to focus more on our physical health rather than our mental health. While it’s true that our physical health is more at risk due to limited strength, mobility, and flexibility – we should never overlook the mental health issues affecting the elderly, especially when caring for the elderly.
Just because a person is elderly doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings and emotions. Loneliness is one of the biggest issues affecting older people. Age UK found that over 2 million people aged 75 or above live alone in this country. Furthermore, over 1 million older people say they regularly go longer than a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour, or family member.
While anybody at any age can feel lonely, older people are especially vulnerable for numerous reasons. Not only are they likely to be unable to travel long distances and journeys, but they may also be missing out due to a lack of technology such as mobile phones, messaging apps, video calling, or social media.
Nobody should ever feel lonely in this day and age, especially somebody in their twilight years. Here are some tips aimed specifically at tackling loneliness in the elderly.
Reach out to them!
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a family member, a friend, a neighbour, or an old acquaintance; whenever possible, take the time to reach out to them and get in touch with them.
Loneliness is such an awful emotion, yet all it takes is a simple phone call or visit to put a smile on an older adult’s face and make them feel great.
Older people often don’t like to make a fuss and will swear blind that they feel fine, are perfectly happy, and aren’t lonely or isolated in the slightest, when in reality, they may feel quite the opposite. Just because an older person says, they feel okay and aren’t feeling down or lonely doesn’t make it true.
If you’re concerned about any elderly individuals living alone who may be feeling lonely, take the time to reach out to them, and you’ll be amazed by what a difference it can make.
Use a befriending service
Because elderly loneliness is such a huge issue in the UK, charities such as Age UK have set up a wide range of initiatives designed to help tackle this problem.
Befriending services are proving particularly helpful. Age UK for example, offer two different types of befriending services, which are:
• Telephone friendship
• Face-to-face befriending
As the name implies, telephone friendship services are conducted over the phone, where older people can chat with members of the Silver Line charity and strike up friendships and conversations that way, all from the comfort of their own home.
This service is great for people who perhaps can’t leave the house or simply don’t wish to. They can schedule calls daily, weekly, or simply as and when they feel like a chat.
As for the face-to-face befriending services, however, usually, a befriender will volunteer and will visit the older person’s home or accompany them on a trip such as for a walk around the park, a cup of tea at the local café or a trip to the theatre perhaps. They may even accompany the older person to medical appointments and can offer moral support and friendship.
Home-care givers and services can also be very useful for tackling elderly loneliness.
Some older people may require assistance at home, such as help with taking medication, cooking, or bathing. Others may simply require help with cleaning and performing household chores due to a lack of mobility.
Whatever the home care may be required for, an added bonus of these particular services is the fact that the older person can get to know the home help and will have somebody to chat to and socialise with.
Classes and hobbies
Finally, another useful tip for tackling loneliness in the elderly is for them to take up a new hobby and/or sign up for classes or workshops.
Many towns, cities, and villages have classes organised specifically for older people, such as dance, Tai Chi, painting, sculpting, or walking.
By signing up for these classes/activities not only does this help the older people get out of the house, but it also helps them to have some fun, get some exercise, meet new people, learn a new skill, and make friends or possibly even strike up a new relationship.