During our lives, we all, at some point, will have experienced a sense of loneliness. However, for many elderly people, it’s something that increases as they age.
It’s a part of human nature to feel the need for social contact so, when we don’t experience enough of it, we’ll begin to feel isolated.
1.4 million older people are experiencing feelings of loneliness according to research by Age UK, and these feelings can be as dangerous to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. As such, we all need to understand how loneliness can impact our loved ones and us.
What can cause loneliness?
Feelings of loneliness don’t always stem from being alone; there are multiple factors that can impact how we feel. Loneliness is defined as an emotion caused by feeling low as a result of a lack of companionship with others.
For older people, this can be due to many reasons, including the distance between other family members. However, even if a loved one is only down the road, it can still be a challenge to see them. This is because family members will understandably have other commitments.
In addition to this, as we age, we can become more vulnerable, and health issues can hinder the ability to be mobile. And, during retirement, it can feel like there are many more hours in the day to fill.
Close friendships amongst the individuals in their age group can also become complicated when friends move away to live with other family members, or into a different home. Some friends could also be struggling to get around themselves, and communication itself may be harder due to health conditions such as dementia.
Spotting the signs of loneliness in older people
There can be a range of reasons as to why someone can feel lonely. As such, we must be able to identify the signs as to why and offer support. The symptoms can be hard to spot, but there are a few indicators to be wary of.
When speaking with your loved one, always take the time to really listen to what they’re saying. Some individuals may simply start talking a lot more than usual, while others may imply that they don’t have anyone to talk to.
Changes in their behaviour can also be a sign. Some people who are feeling lonely may begin to act more extroverted. Meanwhile, others may act out of character in typical social environments in order to gain more attention.
Signs can also be found in their relationships. For example, some people may find it more challenging to nurture their existing friendships or struggle to make new connections with the people they meet. Also, when they’re talking to you, consider if they seem reminiscent of past relationships.
How to help elderly people reduce their feelings of loneliness
If you begin to spot these signs in your loved one, it may be time act.
It’s best to start with a local search and see if there are any clubs or groups that may spark their interest. Check in with local community centres as they often offer activity sessions and friendship groups. You could also look to see if there are any day centres nearby where they can connect with others and enjoy regular activities.
Befriending services and helplines are also a great way to reduce feelings of isolation. The Silver Line, available on 0800 470 8090, offer the chance for older people to talk about their feelings in a confidential and comfortable environment. Similarly, befriending calls are available from Age UK (0800 055 6112) and Independent Age (0800 319 6789).
However, in some instances, feelings of loneliness along with progressive health conditions, can be an indicator that a person is in need of additional support, such as that offered by care homes. Care homes can provide older people with the chance to live comfortably and happily. In these environments, they’ll be receiving all the support they need while being able to make connections with others living in their community.
Here at Crouched Friars Residential Home, we’ve seen that positive impact first-hand. We’re able to give your loved one the exact support they need while hosting a range of exciting activities and events to ensure their health and wellbeing.
If you’re interested in hearing more about Crouched Friars Residential Home, our team would love to speak with you. Based in Colchester, we provide a welcoming environment for older people to live in comfortably.
Contact us on 01206 572647 or email firstname.lastname@example.org