You can help to prevent loneliness and isolation in an elderly parent by getting organised with family and friends, neighbours, researching courses and local events, and considering specialised holidays.
Preventing Loneliness and Isolation in an Elderly ParentThe elderly can be at risk of loneliness and isolation but with support you can help them get the care, company and contact they need. The elderly can be vulnerable to loneliness because of the death of a partner, the loss of friends and problems with mobility and illness. When a parent feels lonely, it can be difficult to deal with. You can do your bit to ease their solitude, but it can be tricky to juggle the conflicting demands of work and family, especially if you live at a distance from your parent.
The truth is that social isolation can have very negative effects on your parent’s health and wellbeing and recent studies have suggested that older people who say that they feel lonely may actually be more likely to develop dementia.
The memory loss, communication problems and personality changes of Alzheimer’s can compound the problem, as it may feel to your loved one, like they have been alone for longer than they really have been. The good news is that there are lots of opportunities for the elderly to study, travel and stay social. With support they can make new friends, enjoy fresh experiences and make the most of their twilight years.
So what can you do?
Family and FriendsMost people with dementia rely on relatives and friends for social contact, but according to research, one in five people spoke to friends or family less than once a month. Pick up the phone to your loved one, or get the family together to organise a rota so that they stay in touch. The research shows that actually having friends and family in contact is more important in warding off loneliness than the specific number of visits.
Social circlesAccording to Age UK, group activities can be particularly useful in helping older people out of loneliness and isolation. Check out local day care centres that offer activities, support and socialisation for the elderly. Alternatively there may be clubs and societies where they can explore their hobbies and keep their minds active. For those affected by dementia, the Alzheimer’s society runs support groups that can be a valuable source of local information and company.
Home care servicesConsider employing a carer to come into your parent’s home and help with chores, provide practical support and also offer a listening ear, a friendly smile and a little company.
Accessing help and assistance early could help your parent cope at home and maintain independence and dignity.
HomeTouch can allow you to choose the right caregivers for your parent, safe in the knowledge that all the necessary checks have been done and their references have been followed up. From another angle, a carer can offer more than just company for your loved one. Elderly relatives like to downplay their struggles, and it can be difficult to really know how they're getting on. A carer can provide impartial eyes and ears, giving you feedback you can trust.