You may have seen a video we posted on our Facebook page last week about a man who handed in his phone, his gadgets, and stayed at home with no contact from his friends or family. This short video follows his journey, and how he coped with being lonely - we’ll give you a little spoiler - he wasn’t happy. Why did he do this? To raise awareness of loneliness. There was a heartfelt moment at the end of the video, when the ‘test subject’ was invited to go into the flat directly across him and meet an elderly man who was all alone. You can watch the video here - just remember to grab a tissue.
Unfortunately, loneliness in elderly people is not uncommon, especially if they live alone or find it difficult to leave their home. Loneliness can have a serious impact on mental health, which also affects your physical health and well-being. It’s all connected, you know. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
According to Age UK, over 2 million people in England who are aged 75 or over live alone, and over half of them admit that they go over a month without speaking to a friend, family member, or neighbour. There are a number of reasons why elderly people can become socially isolated: getting older and weaker; illness; the death of a spouse or friend; disability; feeling like they are no longer the ‘hub’ of their family… Regardless of why, it’s easy to feel lonely and like nobody cares which can lead to depression and a decline in mental, as well as physical health. Did you know that some research shows suffering from loneliness can have the same devastating effects on your health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day?! Scary, isn’t it?
The good news is that there are many things you can do to help prevent loneliness in your family member or loved one.
Come over for tea
If you live close to your elderly relative or loved one, you can allocate a time once or twice a week to pop in for a cuppa ad catch up. Whether it’s to talk, watch your favourite programme together, or help with an activity the hour or two you spend with your loved one matters and makes a huge difference.
Make a phone call
If you live far away (like me and my nan who lives on a different continent!) arrange a time for a weekly phone call. We always call on Sunday afternoon after a roast dinner, and made this a new family tradition! When the connection is good we Skype instead - Skype is a brilliant and free way to keep in touch with loved ones overseas - and easy for the elderly to learn. So even if you’re in California and your relative is in Wiltshire, you can still keep in touch on a regular basis.
Give them the idea to join local clubs and activities
We know it’s hard to convince someone they need to get out and about, but it’s important to keep social. There are local clubs set up by the council to help elderly socialise with like-minded people: gardening clubs, coffee mornings, walking groups, bridge clubs, bingo and quiz nights, and faith groups. Help your loved one pick an activity they like, and be sure to support them in making the first steps. Having a full diary will help your elderly relatives or loved ones lead an active life.
Think about live-in care for your elderly relative or loved one
We understand that it’s difficult to be around all the time, and sometimes you can be left feeling guilty. Having a live-in carer doesn’t always mean your relative needs care - some people find live-in care gives them companionship over anything else. Your loved one’s carer will live with them in their own home, be there to talk to, enable them to get about to participate in social activities and events, look after pets, and build a friendship.
No-one should feel like they have nobody - you can help avoid loneliness in your loved one’s life by making time for them, or ensuring they have a companion to lift their moods and reminisce over old photos. Access Care arrange the finest carers to live with your relatives in their own home, across the UK - call us on 01264 326 505 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to talk to us about a companion live-in carer for your loved one.