Combatting Loneliness in the Elderly
An underexposed, but highly pertinent issue in elder care, loneliness in the elderly is extremely serious, and can contribute to anxiety and depression
, as well as drastically reducing overall wellbeing.
Indeed, elder isolation can have a serious detrimental effect on a person’s mental and physical wellbeing. And with upwards of two million people over the age of 75 in the UK living alone – conditions that only exacerbate loneliness in old age – it’s imperative that friends, family members, and even neighbours can identify and understand signs of loneliness in the elderly.
However, identifying signs of elder loneliness is only half of the battle; it’s equally important to know how to combat loneliness.
Elder Loneliness: How to Fight Back
Sadly, the stigma surrounding loneliness in the elderly can discourage people experiencing elder isolation from reaching out; compounding and worsening the effects of loneliness in old age.
So, with that in mind, we’ve prepared a list of practical tips to help fight back against loneliness in the elderly.
Stay Connected – In Person or Digitally
It may seem obvious, but social isolation is at the root of loneliness in old age, as issues including physical limitations or loss of structure provided by work or family impact on a person’s level of social contact.
But it needn’t be this way; especially with the potential for connectivity provided by technology, but we’ll come back to that momentarily.
Of course, tried-and-true means of staying connected, such as arranging family meals, inviting friends or neighbours over for a drink and a chat or simply visiting the shops are powerful weapons in the fight against elder isolation, but the rise of digital technology – for example, smartphones, computers, and social media – make it easier than ever to stay connected.
Loneliness in the elderly thrives on people staying isolated; especially amongst those who perhaps don’t have friends or family to talk to.
Fortunately, elder isolation can be combatted by joining a community or leisure group near to where you live, whether a local sports team, voluntary group, or even book club.
No matter what type of group you join, it’ll offer a sense of companionship, as well as providing a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Maintain Hobbies & Discover New Pastimes
The simplest way to combat loneliness in the elderly is also possibly the most satisfying – not to mention the easiest to personalize.
As well as providing people with something to look forward to on a regular basis – a vital tool in combating elder loneliness – hobbies allow people to remain engaged in the world around them and offer a sense of structure. Plus, if it’s a new hobby, conducted with others, there is potential for a social circle to widen even further!
Whether it’s something as relaxing as a cookery class, exciting as an elder-focused sports club, or intellectually stimulating as a board game group, hobbies ensure we stay connected to others, and given the wealth of activities on offer, offer an inexhaustible means by which to fight loneliness in old age.
Aside from their innumerable benefits to overall health and wellbeing – from increased sense of purpose to improved cardiovascular health – pet ownership has been proven to address signs of loneliness in old age.
Indeed, in combatting elder loneliness, the proverb ‘you’re never alone with a pet’ rings true, with our animal friends offering a valuable sense of companionship. Moreover, pet ownership can also be a social experience – dog walking groups, for example – meaning our furry, feathered, or scaly friends can bring us closer to those around us, too.
It is, of course, important to consider your lifestyle and any potential limitations when adopting a pet, but with such a variety available, it’s easy to find an animal that’ll slot into your life so seamlessly that you’ll wonder what you ever did without them.
Of course, taking action to address elder loneliness may be impeded by ongoing health and mobility issues, exacerbating loneliness in old age as people with limited mobility may find it difficult to stay connected outside of their home.
In this instance, live-in care and home care services can mitigate feelings of loneliness in the elderly, as these types of care, delivered at home by highly-trained experts, carry a huge social factor; after all, the relationship between a person and a carer is highly personal, and can provide a stimulating, invigorating form of social contact.
Addressing Elder Loneliness with Abbots Care
At Abbots Care, we’re committed to understanding and addressing signs of loneliness in elderly people ; and we’re eager to use our knowledge and networks to help anyone who may be experiencing elder loneliness.
Abbots Friends is a free companion service, offering practical support, social interaction, and human companionship to those who need it.
If you know someone who could benefit from companion care, get in touch today to find out how we can help.
“The Care staff that are supporting my Mum through her care needs are extremely lovely and supportive. Our Mum has cancer and she is receiving the most excellent and caring support from all Staff. We would just like to say a huge thank you as we know that there is more difficult times ahead for us as a family. ”
Child of Service User, Buckinghamshire BranchSee what our service users think