5 Ways to Combat Loneliness in the Elderly
Especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, loneliness amongst the elderly population is a problem
Here are five ways you can try to connect with the older loved ones in your life
Isolation and loneliness are widespread among our elders. There are fewer opportunities for social engagement than in their younger days. As you get older, your social circle starts to shrink; there are also issues of mobility, illness, and transportation. Embarrassment can also be a factor. Therefore, it is important to empower them to be able to combat feelings of loneliness. This article will explore ways in which you can help your elderly loved ones find opportunities to stay connected and feel less alone.
1. Maintain frequent contact
Try and make it a regular part of your life to call your elderly loved ones often. Even for the very independent and social, a short conversation can help a person feel less alone and more connected. For the elderly and others struggling with loneliness, finding someone to connect with may be challenging. So do your best to connect your elderly loved one with other relatives and friends. People can learn a lot by spending time with seniors and it can make the other person feel less lonely too.
2. Regularly visit in person
Visiting in person is not only better than a call because you can get a greater sense of how they are doing and see what is going on, but it is also highly beneficial for the senior to see you and feel the benefit of your physical presence – though of course, Covid has made this a little harder for us all. Research has shown that friendly platonic touching, like handholding or hugging, can lower stress and promote feelings of wellbeing. So, even if you or your elderly loved one are not the touchy types, consciously try to add an element of physical touch to every visit, such as including a friendly hug into your greetings and farewells.
If distance and time make visiting challenging, then you can also help your loved one by arranging for some elderly care at home services. Having a carer on hand to visit your loved one and help out with daily household chores, or simply provide some companionship, can be a massive benefit.
3. Teach your elder to use technology
Modern technology is a great way to bridge the distance. Even an elderly person who has never touched a computer before can learn if they are willing. Technology and the internet can open the world up to an elderly person. It is so worth the effort to teach seniors the basics of technology and the internet. Also, where possible, make use of any adaptive technologies that are available. Adaptive technologies can help the elderly to compensate for age-related deficits that can impede social interaction. Encourage and facilitate the use of adaptive aids that make it possible for seniors to have active and involved social lives wherever possible.
4. Encourage hobbies and interests
Learning something new is a great way to keep a brain young and active. Encourage your elderly loved one to take up a new hobby or activity to keep them busy and allow them to interact with other people. Hobbies and interest also promote a strong sense of purpose. Elderly people with a sense of purpose are less likely to experience the negative effects of social isolation. Hobbies and interests are inherently social and anything that involves a group is a very socially healthy experience.
Volunteering is another great way of maintaining and expressing a sense of purpose for the elderly. Providing seniors with the opportunity to volunteer can help them maintain their independence and also keep them from feeling isolated and lonely. Volunteering provides a variety of benefits for lonely elderly people, both physically and mentally. Volunteering promotes physical activity and also keeps the brain active. According to research from the National Institute on Aging, it has been shown that participating in meaningful activities can lower the risk of dementia and physical health problems in seniors.
If you are concerned about your elderly loved one’s wellbeing, then try out some of these tips to ensure that they feel less lonely.