Have you noticed that your elderly relative feels lonely?

The elderly are extremely vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation and these can have a serious impact on their health. According to the research conducted by Age UK, there are 1.4 million lonely elderly individuals in the UK and in a pandemic such as Covid-19, loneliness in the elderly is said to be a national crisis.

Recent studies have found that:

  • Social isolation is strongly related to Dementia. Research has shown that being socially isolated is associated with a 50% increased risk of Dementia.
  • Poor social relationships (as a result of social isolation) is directly related to a risk of heart disease and stroke with the elderly. Click here to read the rest of the report.

It is important to understand that loneliness is not the same as social isolation. Some individuals can be isolated but don’t feel lonely. On the other hand, loneliness results from lack of meaningful connections. Age UK  have classified loneliness as a negative feeling and a common human emotion that an individual may experience especially when their relationships do not match up to their own expectations and according to Age UK, if we don’t tackle loneliness as a community, by 2026 there will be over 2 million people over the age of 50 in England who will at some point experience loneliness.  Their findings also suggest that the reasons people feel lonely are personal, in some cases, people might require personalised support.

Although, there are many ways to overcome loneliness, even if your elderly relative lives alone.

Here are our 7 tips on how you can help them:

  1. Communication: Keep in touch with your elderly relative by phone. Have a friendly chat with them. It is time to increase the frequency of calls to your parent or grandparent. It is always nice to talk to your elderly relative as you might discover or learn new things about them that you did not know before. Make it a regular commitment, schedule in your diary to call your elderly relative more often.
  2. Basic IT skills: Consider teaching your elderly relative to use technology so that they can continue to maintain connections. A device (such as a mobile phone, computer or iPad) with many video calling apps such as WhatsApp, Skype or Facetime is a tool for them to stay connected with you and your family.
  3. Communities: If you teach your elderly relative basic IT skills, it would be extremely beneficial if you could sign them up to social media platforms. For example, a Facebook account will allow your elderly relative to engage with friends, family and community groups. Facebook community groups can vary from area to general friendship groups such as: Caregiver & The Elderly, Ask The Elder and London Elderly Covid-19 Community Support Group.
  4. Activities: Giving your elderly relative options for them to stay active can be beneficial for their mental and physical health. It could be as simple as going for a walk with them, playing their favourite board game or helping them to sign up to an online physical activity class. A variety of online fitness classes can be found on Age UK’s website. Website. Online Pilates (through zoom) is also very popular for the elderly, click here to view the next available times and dates on Yoga Mama. Click here to book the next Pilates sessions for your elderly relative. Visiting your elderly relative regularly is another thing to make them smile. It is a wonderful feeling for your elderly relative to see you.
  5. Support: Be the person that your elderly relative can talk to. Whether your elderly relative is going through a difficult time or not, having a chat with them always brings a smile to their face.
  6. Contribution/Volunteering: Volunteering gets seniors to be involved with the community. Age UK has a research which mentions the main benefits for older people to become volunteers, these include: improved cognition, improved mental health, physical health, increased life satisfaction and social interaction which helps to fight loneliness.
  7. Companionship: Perhaps it would be beneficial to have extra support for your relative. Visiting Angels can help your elderly relative overcome loneliness. At Visiting Angels, we provide companionship, taking time to listen and chat. Through companionship care, we aim to prevent the elderly from feeling lonely or isolated. Our caregivers are highly trained to the level where they are able to notice the early stages of loneliness and are able to help the elderly through variety of things such as personal care and companionship.

Why not have a chat with us about your elderly relative requirements? You can book a FREE assessment visit, contact us on westlondon@visiting-angels.co.uk or by giving us a ring to 0203 143 8878.