Loneliness affects 1.2 million older people in the UK. 1.9 million older people have said they felt ignored or invisible and over half of those aged over 75 live alone.
Many older people have said they felt lonelier around the festive season, but loneliness is not just for Christmas. This is an issue that affects the older generation all year round.
What are the signs of loneliness?
We can’t assume someone is lonely because they live alone or enjoy their own company. Age UK has suggested a few signs to keep an eye out for:
- A significant change in routine, such as getting up later
- Neglecting their personal hygiene or appearance
- Not eating properly
- Talking about feeling worthless, or not communicated as much as they used to
What can we all do to help someone feel a little less lonely?
First and foremost, let them know you are there if they ever need a chat or some help. It’s important for someone feeling lonely to be reassured they have someone willing to listen to them. Be patient with them, especially at first as they may not want to be a burden.
If there has been a change in their usual routine, for example visiting friends, going to the local shops, or regular activities, encourage them to start doing what they once enjoyed again. Accompany them, showing they have your support. Perhaps suggest a new activity you can both do together; local community centres and support groups will have plenty of ideas, targeted to their interests.
Sometimes it’s the little things that help. Help them write out Christmas cards, or wrap presents for their family. Maybe take them Christmas shopping if they haven’t managed to get out into the community. Even an evening enjoying mince pies and a festive film can help.
Invite them to spend Christmas with you. With many older people feeling lonelier this time of year, knowing they will be surrounded by family (or feel like part of a family if they aren’t a relation) can boost their mental health.
Perhaps caring for other people is something you enjoy doing and want to turn it into your career? At Heritage Healthcare, we recruit a team of dedicated and compassionate Care Assistants who are there to provide expert home support to local individuals. If you are interested in being part of our team, please click here to be taken to our Careers page where you can find out more about how we can support you.
Throughout December, we are Combatting Elderly Loneliness. We will be sharing information and advice about loneliness within the older community and how we can support. Keep an eye on our website and social media platforms for further articles.