During this pandemic, many seniors have found themselves protecting themselves by staying home. This isolation means that seniors are now more susceptible to another malady: loneliness. According to a study from the University of California San Francisco, “more than 40% of seniors regularly experience loneliness.”
With such a high percentage, it becomes our duty as caregivers to ease our aging loved ones feelings of isolation. Whether you are a caregiver or a home health aide, here is a guideline for lessening loneliness in seniors.
1. Encourage loved ones to reach out
For those dealing with feelings of loneliness, it can mean the world when a loved one reaches out. Thus, one of the best ways to ensure that seniors do not feel isolated is to encourage family and friends to make the effort to reach out.
It should be noted that this doesn’t need to be a grand gesture or a three hour daily call. Instead, a hand written note, a weekly phone call, or a kind email can do wonders to quell feelings of isolation!
2. Utilize Active Listening
When spending time with someone, it’s easy to fall into the trap of listening to respond. Yet, many seniors dealing with feelings of loneliness want to share their thoughts. Thus, when you spend time with your loved one, make certain that you are utilizing active listening. This means not just listening to the words, but also listening for meaning, and being aware of body language.
When responding, use statements like “it sounds like you’re saying is this, is that right?” or “that sounds difficult, I’m sorry you’re going through that.” The goal is to not only lend a helping hand, but also lend a caring ear.
3. Look to the Community
A great way to make sure your loved one does not feel alone is to enlist the community! Although many community members are in a period of sheltering at home does not mean that they have disappeared altogether! In fact, there are many remote community resources to help quell loneliness.
Reach out to your loved one’s church, book club, or homecare agency. Ask what remote sources they offer and see if there are any that your relative would be interested in!
For example, the Institute of Aging (IOA) provides a 24/7 call service to all individuals over 60 years old. The friendship line is manned by trained volunteers who offer friendly conversations for elderly individuals!
If you need advice about caring for a senior contact in-Home Health care Services.