Helping your parents to overcome loneliness - When They Get Older
We are currently living in a time where loneliness is a real epidemic and in a recent list that was compiled by Silver Line; a charity that provides a helpline for isolated elderly people founded by Dame Esther Rantzen, it was revealed that the West Midlands is one of the loneliest places to live in the UK.
Chronic loneliness can pose serious health risk to physical health and emotional well-being and research completed by Brigham Young University suggests that the health risks associated with loneliness or social isolation is “comparable to well-established risk factors” such as obesity, substance abuse, injury and violence, and environmental quality. Furthermore, the NHS estimate that loneliness can increase the risk of premature death by around 30%.
None of us want to think of our parents being lonely and so we have put together some tops tips for you to help your parents or older relatives overcome loneliness.
Take time to visit
We now lead such busy lives that finding the time to visit our parents feels impossible and even though we may not be able to visit very often when we do, we should really make the most of it.
Make the call
In the words of Barry White, ‘I just called to say I love you’ and what a long way that call can go to helping your parent feel loved and cared for. It doesn’t have to be a conversation about war and peace every day but a 5-10 minute call a day will let your parents know that their well-being is important to you. Top Tip though call when they are not watching their favourite TV programme this might be something they look forward to watching and might even be a conversation starter!
Keep it local
If your parents are fit and active, there are groups such as dance classes like Keep Dancing, the University of the Third Age (UA3) for cerebral activities, the Rotary Club, walking football, local councils often run walking clubs, all groups which would welcome their presence and also benefit your parents physical health and may even prevent them from having a fall which could lead to further social isolation down the line. Be sensitive when discussing activity ideas as your suggestions may not always be welcomes initially as no one wants to feel that they are in the category of attending a group for ‘oldies’!
Teach how to Silver Surf
Technology can be a fantastic aid for keeping in touch with your parents and for them to have access to the big wide world outside their home. Why not spend time with your parent teaching them the basics of using the internet and communication aids like Facetime and Skype to help them keep in touch with you on the go. Even better get your children to teach their grandparents and encourage further quality time.
Make a Meal of it
For older people, depression brought on by loneliness can lead to a worrying lack of interest in looking after themselves. Loss of appetite means little effort is made to prepare meals and for some cooking for one might be overwhelming. Next time you make a home cooked meal for your family make a few extra meals that can be taken to your parents and popped into the freezer and into the microwave when needed.
Loneliness is not limited being felt by older adults and we can all feel lonely. Sometimes circumstances that we don't live close to our parents. So next time you are out and busy treat everyone as you would hope others would treat your parents when they are out a smile and a hello could make someone’s day.