It’s easy to focus on the physical effects of age and disability, and by extension to concentrate your efforts on addressing those problems. However, this can often be at the cost of addressing the mental effects these issues can create. Loneliness may not sound serious, 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 client’s needs first, whether they be physical or emotional. Here are some techniques you can use to help stave off the loneliness your loved ones may be feeling.
Organise day trips
Day trips are not only a good way of combating loneliness, but also a great way of 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 facilities have wheelchair access, or consider how difficult it is to reach.
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 massive difference.
Consider coming up with a theme – like Thursday scrabble evenings – to make visits more enjoyable, or bringing something homemade to lift their spirits. The amount of time you spend doesn’t have to be fixed, but the day(s) you visit should be.
Hire a carer
Our professional home care services can solve many of the mobility issues by helping your loved ones get 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 the biggest 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. Instead of simply accepting this, take the time out to teach them how to use modern technology or invest in a senior-targeted communication system like GrandPad. Once the senior 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. If necessary, give them a mobile phone with features for older people that are easier to use and show them how to use it.
Remember that while mobile phones and other “smart” technology may be new to them, they will normally be comfortable with using landlines. Try and make sure to ring often: even just chatting for a few minutes is enough to brighten their day and will make them feel like someone is looking out for them. It also makes them feel like they’re still involved in your life.
Choose the 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.