Elderly Loneliness: 5 Ways to Help Your Aging Parent

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Parents may feel elderly loneliness as they get older
Helping aging parents stave off loneliness.

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
  • Concerts

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.

46 COMMENTS

  1. Great advice! There are many retirement communities that have social functions. I’ve found these to be beneficial to my aging aunt who lives in one. She’s very active and spunky and they have crafts and game nights. She has a lot of fun.

  2. Nice topic and post👌💙
    Loneliness is a major problem for old because young people don’t understand their feeling. They feel so bored and time wasting to spend time with old. So mostly they avoid them.
    But old is always gold. They’re more experienced people and had seen every aspect of life. So we might get to learn so many things also if we sit and talk with them.

  3. Hi Miss Christy…

    Yet another great and timely post as we watch people age around us. We can see it coming with ourselves. I am actively involved in the church with visitation and helping fill that void often family can not because of distance etc. So sad as I talk to people just how lonely they truly are. That few minutes of visiting can make a huge difference in their day…

    Hugs from Alberta

  4. This is a very tough situation, Christy. I realize all the reasons why, but previous generations had it right when the grandparents lived with a son or daughter and their young family. Nursing homes (long-term care) are a lot less than ideal. Even if son and daughter both work and the kids are off at school, at least the elderly parent can look forward to the end of the day. I know this can put strains on the young family, but there are benefits too. Kids today don’t know their family history because they don’t hear the stories that the grandparents could tell. I think our society needs to get back to this model and bring in home care when necessary – likely less expensive than those assisted care homes. Good post on a tough issue.

    • Awww you do bring to mind a good solution, John. It will be interesting to see what happens in cities like the one where I live where so much of the population is aging.. will the younger generations help? Hope so xx

  5. A caring, insightful and very necessary article. Many of us will be there one day.
    This is a special post, Christy, for women and men. ♡

  6. Such a wonderful post. For some folks this is a real hard time. I mind when my older girl did a stint on phone lines in one customer service in one of the big supermarket here and she would often end up speaking to this old man. He would order like two things. he just wanted to speak to someone,. Hers was the first voice he’d heard all week. Poor thing. So very sad.

  7. Another excellent article. People with disabilities oftentimes move at a slightly slower speed than the rest of society and can become isolated as well. It has been my experience that when people stop thinking of themselves as “helpers” and become friends that isolation quickly fades.
    Thank you for inspiring me today! 👍👍
    ^^ Buffalo Tom

    • I think that friends is so much better than “helper” as it’s an equal relationship then rather than a shift in power dynamic happening. Wishing you a great night, BT 🙂

  8. Very thoughtful of you. We generally dont find time for our ageing parents. We are just so pre occupied with our routine life. This post is really helpful to find a way out of this problem. Thankyou☺☺

  9. I loved this Christy. Your compassion shines through your wonderful advice. Activities are so important to give seniors things to not only keep busy, but to enjoy. It’s what keeps us all going – having things to look forward to. <3

  10. This is a very thoughtful post Christy. Loneliness at an age when you are not physically fit enough to go out and entertain yourself is dreadful. I wish each one of us can look after our parents and try to keep them happy in their old age just like they did for us when we were young. How about getting them to move in with us or at least near us so we can check on them easily. I read of an old woman who slipped and couldn’t get out of her bathroom for three whole days. I feel parents should never be left alone to look after themselves when they are old.

    • Ohhh when my grandma fell it was terrible to see her with a black eye… soon after that she went into a care home.. if families are able then having older parents live with them is a great option. Your warm nature is clear from your comment here, skd 🙂

  11. When my father passed away a few years ago, my mother naturally had a lot of trouble coping. After all, they had been together for 46 years, so my mother no longer knew how to manage being alone. After several months of living on my sister’s couch ( I and my brother unfortunately live too far away), my siblings and I finally convinced her to go out and make new friends. She wanted not a replacement for my father, but someone to be a companion, to make her feel like she would not be alone for the rest of her life. To our great surprise, she found a “boyfriend” who was in a similar situation, and they began to incorporate their lives. Now they live together, but divide their time between each others’ children and grandchildren, and are very happy together. Life does go on, one must simply look for a way to move forward in face of tragedy.

    • OH Amy, your story shows that life changes and we can help one another.. also that new people come in our lives at the times when we need them… and still your father has a special place.. so glad you shared this touching story <3 Big hugs

  12. These are all great tips, Christy. I’ve a friend that I used to go on outings with. It helped her a lot especially after her husband died. She has Alztheimers, now, which makes it difficult to visit. She isn’t aware of it and gets angry. Her children have stepped in and are taking turns since they live out of state. Family does make a difference when aging. It’s difficult for everyone.
    A must read for everyone. Thank you for the url.
    Isadora 😎

    • I am glad to hear the family is stepping in to help your friend, Isadora.. and a situation like that puts stress on everyone.. I’m glad you found the article to be quality… I think that way about your posts xx

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