Helping aging parents stave off loneliness. Pexels, CC0 License.
Anyone with an aging parents knows that it can be a real challenge to prevent them from feeling lonely. Loneliness is a common problem for elderly people as many of them have lost partners and friends. As elderly people tend to lose their independence over the years there are fewer possibilities for them to retain good social contact with those around them.
This can be a real concern for the family members and it is common for us to feel a little helpless when it comes to finding ways to occupy their time and help them to build connections with other people. So, with that in mind, here is advice on how to try and combat the loneliness that a parent of yours may be feeling.
Be There as Much as Possible
This can be very difficult if you live in a different area to your mother or father. Geographical distance can put a lot of strain on families who want to support their aging parents. If distance is a problem then daily contact, via the telephone, can go a long way in reminding parents that they are always on your mind and that you care. When distance is a problem, try and stay on top of the big milestones in your parent’s life, such as birthdays, anniversaries and make sure that you try to be there on the days when they will need that extra support to prevent them from feeling sad and alone.
You also don’t need to wait for the important days to go and spend time with your parents, so planning regular trips is truly the best way to be there emotionally and physically for your parent. Seeing familiar faces, grandchildren and just spending time together can be one of the most special moments in their life so it is very important that we are generous with our time and continually organizing days and moments to spend together.
Research Local Community
Whether you live locally or far away, you should be putting in research into the community of your parent to see what is available for them in their local community. Whether you feel that your parent needs around the clock assistance or whether you think that they will just benefit from getting out of the house for a couple of hours every day.
If you are concerned that your parent is no longer able to completely look after themselves, then maybe it is time to look at a residential home. Find comfort at McKnight Place or a similar residential home in your community where your parent will be looked after, safe and can enjoy the company of other residents on a daily basis. It is a big decision for all the family, so be open about these conversations and put in a lot of research to find the best options in your parent’s local area.
Alternatively, if your parent is still active, independent and able to look after themselves on a day-to-day basis, but you are worried that they are feeling isolated and spend too long at home by themselves, then there are other options to prevent them from feeling lonely. In this case, you should be looking at community resources, in the area that your parent lives, to see what social activities they can be getting involved with to get them out of the house on a regular basis.
Most communities have centers for elderly people that offer great opportunities to bring the elderly community together to make friends and enjoy activities together. Whether you think your parent will enjoy entertainment nights, social games or daily outings, find what you think will best suit your parents tastes and interests and then encourage them to give it a try. You can help with the transportation and organization in order to make it as easy as possible for your parent to get involved and out of the house, enjoying the company of others, as much as possible.
Go Out Together
Think of all the things that your parent loves to do and treat them to events or activities that they will enjoy. Social activities, theater, concerts and anything else that you think they will enjoy will be all the more enjoyable if you take them. As elderly parents have less ability to do these things by themselves then they will naturally depend on those around them to make these leisure pursuits possible. Therefore, make sure that you are regularly thinking of the places that you can take them to give them a really lovely evening or a special day out.
Consider a Carer
If your parent is not quite ready yet for a residential home, or it is not possible for them to live with you, then you may want to consider hiring a part-time or full time carer to look after your parent or at least to be checking in on them on a daily basis. Carers will offer you the peace of mind that your aging parent is being looked after, if you are not able to spend time with them on a daily basis.
Professional carers will be able to cook and clean for your parent. They will be able to offer daily company and will be able to take your parent out to events and activities for the elderly community in your parents local area. So, whether you feel your parent needs a part-time or a full-time, live-in carer, put in some research into the different options and professionals in your parent’s area.
Don’t Shy Away from Technology
We all know that whilst kids are whizzes at every gadget, app, and modern piece of technology, when it comes to our parents they are pretty much at a loss when it comes to navigating anything even as simple as a mobile phone. That does not mean, however, that technology cannot be used as a way to make communication with your parent really easy.
Most elderly parents, who are willing, will be able to crack how to use Skype, for example, when shown what to do. So look into the different forms of technology that can keep you and your family in touch with your parent, when you can’t be there physically, to ensure they don’t feel alone and feel connected with the family around them, as much as possible