By Stewart Mcginn, Managing Director at Baycroft Care Homes (www.baycroft.co.uk)
More than 2 million people aged 75 and over live alone in England, and as it’s loneliness awareness week, it’s essential we ensure they feel connected and cared for all year round.
With this in mind, Stewart Mcginn recommends a number of ways you can help protect your elderly loved one’s emotional and mental wellbeing, combating loneliness and ensuring that they feel involved.
There is no better way to combat loneliness in your elderly relatives, than to dedicate spending some quality time with them. Whilst life can sometimes feel hectic, giving an hour of your time each day or taking a trip out together on the weekend for a few hours, can make all the difference. This is especially important if you are the sole carer for an elderly relative, as the chances are, this is the only interaction they will have in their week.
A convenient and easier way to check in with your elderly loved ones and provide them with some company, is with a phone call. Whether you are telling them about the events of your day, or simply being an ear to listen to them, this is a great way to ensure they feel connected. Phone calls are a great solution if you are busy often, as they are more flexible; you can call your elderly loved one while commuting to work (if on hands-free), in the supermarket, or waiting to pick the kids up from school.
From a book club to a bird-watching group, or even a weekly coffee catch-up, you can research the surrounding area to see if there is a community-led group your elderly relative can join. This will allow them to engage with others of a similar age, make friends, experience new hobbies and enjoy getting out of the house for an hour or two.
Consider a care home
If your elderly parent or family member struggles with living alone and due to circumstances cannot move into your home, a care home can be a great option. Many care homes have an extensive range of activities on offer, have meals provided (so that they don’t need to worry about cooking), and will allow your elderly relative to have companionship with other residents in the home.
Exercise can be beneficial for a number of reasons, from releasing endorphins that will make the senior person feel good, to increasing their overall flexibility and strength. Depending on the elderly person’s mobility, you could encourage them to get involved in a number of low-intensity sports that have a social aspect. Some examples include light swimming and chatting between lengths, lawn bowls with a local team, or simply just taking a leisurely stroll for some fresh air and a change of scenery with a local, organised group.
Helplines for someone to chat to
Whether it’s a customer or a neighbour, if you know someone elderly that has expressed they are feeling lonely and don’t have any family or friends to talk to – you can recommend using a befriending service. This service allows them to ring the helpline and be connected with a volunteer befriender, for somebody to talk to and have a friendly conversation with.