It’s easy to focus on the physical effects of age and disability like caring for oneself while living alone or not being able to get around as much because they’re easier to notice. As a result, most efforts go to addressing those problems and finding the solution. However, this can often be at the cost of overshadowing the mental effects age and disability can create. Loneliness may not sound serious to some, but it’s a genuine issue for those who suffer from it. Research from the Alzheimer’s Society suggests that a lack of social connections can damage a person’s health as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
At Better Healthcare, we understand the impact physical disabilities can have on mental health, and we place our patients’ needs first, whether they be physical or emotional. Here are some techniques you can use to help combat the loneliness your loved ones may be feeling.
Organise day trips
Day trips are a great way of combating loneliness in senior loved ones and involving them in family activities. Look for things that you can all do together, such as going to the cinema or visiting the park for a picnic.
Remember that you may have to make extra considerations and arrangements when picking somewhere to go with a senior loved one who has a disability. For example, you might need to check if the premises have wheelchair accessible facilities, or consider whether their professional care worker can come too if they have one.
Plan regular visiting times
The most important factor is that your visits are regular. One of the most significant factors of loneliness comes from not knowing when you will next see your friends and family, and when that gap stretches to weeks or even months, it can be disheartening. Having a preset time to look forward to makes a positive difference in their mood when combating loneliness in senior loved ones.
Consider coming up with a theme – like Thursday scrabble evenings – to make visits more enjoyable, or bringing something homemade to lift their spirits. As long as they know they have some social interaction to look forward to, the amount of time you spend with them doesn’t have to be fixed.
Hire a care worker
Our professional home care services can solve many of the mobility issues by helping your loved ones get to where they wish to go. Our carers are well-trained professionals, meaning they are prepared for all the eventualities and issues that can come up when caring for someone with a disability or illness.
Having a carer also serves as a person to provide your loved one company on a more frequent basis between your visits. Sometimes just having someone present who listens to them can make a significant difference in ensuring their mood stays positive.
Phone and text
In many cases, seniors can be reluctant to use certain things deemed ‘too modern’, and mobile phones or iPads often fall under this category. For those that can’t visit in person regularly and need a way to keep in touch, consider teaching them how to use common essential technology like mobile phones. Ensure the mobile phone has features that are easy to use like larger buttons and large font on screens. Alternatively, you can invest in a senior-targeted communication system like GrandPad. Once your loved one has the tablet, the rest of the family just needs to download the application to their smartphone or device and keeping in contact is as simple as clicking a button.
Try to call often. Simply talking for a few minutes can be enough to brighten their day and will likely make them feel as if someone is looking out for them. It also makes them feel like they’re still involved in your life.
Choose the elderly care experts
Loneliness is just as serious a mental health issue as depression is, and at Better Healthcare, we treat it accordingly. Our healthcare services include outreach workers that specialise in mental health and can help you get your loved ones feeling like themselves again.
To find out more, get in touch on 0800 668 1234 or contact your local office.