Loneliness and isolation is rife in the world today as we all live busier, more disconnected lives than we ever have before. However, it is the elderly and infirm who tend to suffer the biggest effects of loneliness. On average, the elderly do not go out to work, many are sick or disabled, and a lot live far away from their families, which means that they end up spending too much time stuck at home away from the wider world.
This is terrible, not only for their mental health but for their physical health and their longevity too. So, what can we do to help the elderly people around us avoid loneliness?
Spend Time with Them
Of course, the most effective thing we can do to help lonely elderly people is to spend time with them. Whether they’re a family member, a neighbour or a resident at the local old people’s home, they’ll be delighted if you drop in, especially if you take the kids along. Just sit, listen to their stories and shoot the breeze for an hour or so a couple of days a week and you’ll make a huge difference to the quality of someone’s life.
Access to Mobility Aids
If you have an elderly parent, relative or friend who is lonely simply because their mobility isn’t what it once was, so they can’t get out to the social club or bar quite as often as they’d like, getting them a mobility aid such as a walking frame or wheelchair could give them a whole new lease of life. You can find mobility aids for hire, so it needn’t cost much, but it will help your loved ones to go out and have more social interaction, which makes it priceless.
Organising activities that seniors will love is a great way to encourage them not only to get out but to spend time together. Activities can be as simple as a game of bridge, a bingo night or a dance, but if it involves a group of people and if it keeps the body or mind active, it will help to avoid social isolation and bring more elderly people together in the best possible way.
Get Them a Pet
If the elderly individual in your life is capable of looking after a pet, and you’re willing to take the animal in should anything happen to its owner, getting them a dog or cat that they can take care of will help them to feel much less lonely, even if they don’t have regular contact with other people. In fact, one study found that elderly care home residents who looked after a plant were much healthier and happier than their fellow residents who were not given responsibility for a living thing. If taking care of a plant can have such a big impact, imagine how much good giving them their own pets will do!
Have you helped an elderly person overcome loneliness and isolation? What one piece of advice do you have to impart?