Anyone with aging parents knows that it can be a real challenge to prevent them from feeling lonely. How to fight elderly loneliness effectively is a common problem; in Canada alone, as many as 1.4 million seniors report they feel lonely. One reason for it is the deaths of partners and friends over time. Also, as elderly people lose their independence over the years, social opportunities often lessen.
There ARE Ways to Fight Elderly Loneliness
Elderly loneliness can be a real concern for family members, and it is easy to feel a bit helpless when it comes to finding ways to occupy their time and help them to build connections with other people. So, here are ways to combat the loneliness that a parent of yours may feel these days.
Be There as Much as Possible
Being there for a loved one can be very difficult if you live in a different geographical area. Physical distance can put a lot strain on families who want to support their aging parents. If distance is a problem then daily contact by telephone can go a long way in reminding parents that they are always on your mind and that you care about their well-being.
If distance is a problem, try and stay on top of the big milestones in your parent’s life, such as birthdays and anniversaries. Also, try to be there on the days when they will need extra support to prevent them from feeling sad and alone.
You also needn’t wait for only important days to spend time with your parents. Instead, regular trips to see them, even for a few hours simply to have tea together in their home, is a great way to fight elderly loneliness. Be there emotionally and physically for your parent, if possible.
Seeing a familiar face and just spending time together can be very special moments in their life. So, be generous with your time; continually organize days and moments to spend together.
Research Residential Homes
Whether you live locally or far away, put in time to research the community of your parent to see what is available for them locally. It could be that you think your parent needs around-the-clock care or that they will just benefit from getting out of the house for a couple of hours every day.
If your parent can no longer independently look after themselves, then maybe it is time for a residential home. Find comfort at McKnight Place or a similar residential home in your community to look after your parent or another aging loved one. Not only are you helping them be safe but they can also enjoy the company of other residents daily. It is a big decision for all of the family, so be open about these conversations with everyone who it impacts. Put in a lot of research to find the best options in your parent’s local area.
Find Community Programs
Alternatively, if your parent is still active, independent and able to look after themselves daily but you worry about their spending a lot of time home alone, there are other options to prevent elderly loneliness. In this case, search the area where your parent lives to see what social events might appeal to them. Look for activities they have found fun in the past, such as playing cards; ask your mom or dad about hobbies if you’re not sure about their interests. These events will get them out of the house regularly.
As most communities have centers specifically for seniors, you probably won’t have much trouble finding an appropriate place. These centers offer great opportunities to bring the older community together to make friends and enjoy activities together. It could be entertainment nights, social games or daily outings.
Choose what best suits your parent’s tastes. Then, encourage them to give it a try soon. You can even help with the transportation and organization to make it as easy as possible for your parent. By enjoying the company of others, you’re helping a loved one combat elderly loneliness.
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. Examples are:
- Social activities
- Movie theater
If you think they will like it, know that it will be all the more enjoyable if you take them. Plus, it may be hard for your parent to get to the destination. Thus, try to regularly think of where you can take them for a lovely evening or special day out.
Elderly Loneliness? 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 consider hiring a part-time or full-time carer. This person can look after your parent or at least to check in on them regularly. Carers will offer you the peace of mind that your aging parent is looked after. That’s especially true if you’re unable to spend time with them daily.
Professional carers can cook and clean for your parent. They can also provide companionship daily to help prevent elderly loneliness. They might even take your parent out to local senior events and activities, if your loved one is mobile enough. So, whether your parent needs a part-time or full-time live-in carer, put in some research into what’s available in your parent’s neighborhood.
Don’t Shy Away from Technology
Many kids are whizzes at gadgets and apps. But when it comes to parents, they might be at a loss as to how to navigate even a mobile phone. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use technology to communicate with your parent.
Many elderly parents who are willing to learn will be able to crack how to use Skype, for example, when shown what to do properly. So, look at what technology can keep you and family in touch with a parent when you can’t be there physically. Doing so can help prevent elderly loneliness as they feel connections with the family around them as much as possible.