Today marks the beginning of Loneliness Awareness Week 2022.
Most of us will feel lonely at some point in our lives, however for the elder generation, this can often have a significant impact on their physical and mental wellbeing.
If you’re worried someone you know may be feeling lonely, let’s discuss some ways you can help them.
It’s completely understandable that you cannot be available 24/7, however making the effort to spend time with them can make all the difference. Simply stopping and talking to an elderly neighbour on the street is a good place to start. Don’t be afraid to ask them how they are feeling or if there’s anything you can do to help. Having someone who is willing to listen could be a great comfort.
If you suspect an elderly person may have hearing or memory problems, speak clearly and pause between sentences to allow them to process the information. Allow some extra time for them to respond – don’t rush them.
Offer Your Help
Do you know an elderly person who lives alone, rarely leaves the house, has recently experienced a bereavement, is ill, disabled, has vision or hearing loss, or does not appear to have close family living nearby?
Inquire if they require assistance with tasks such as grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions and medications, or dog walking. Offer to accompany them or provide transportation to activities, doctors’ and hospital appointments, etc.
Share a Home Cooked Meal
Older, isolated people may need a hand cooking for themselves. Why not bring around an extra plate of hot home-cooked food, or a frozen portion they can heat up or microwave.
It’s not only practical, but it’s also a pleasant way to spend time with a neighbour.
Try to serve the meal in a container that you won’t need back – keeping track of serving bowls is a lot of work for both of you.
Encourage and Support
According to Age UK, feelings of loneliness are linked to depression, anxiety, sleep problems, impaired cognitive health, heightened vascular resistance and hypertension to name a few. Reassure the individual that it’s possible to feel better with the right help. They may need some support to make new social connections or access services designed to tackle loneliness.
For more information call the Age UK Advice Line on 0800 678 1602.
They’re open 8am to 7pm, every day of the year.