Loneliness is a feeling that arises in response to a lack of emotional connection with others. Loneliness can often lead to Social Isolation for Older People and vice versa. Social isolation for older people in particular is increasingly common.
This is because of the types of factors that can lead to social isolation and loneliness. These factors include living alone, health problems and disability, and sensory impairment such as hearing loss, which often impact older people.
It’s unrealistic to think that you can get rid of loneliness entirely. But by reducing social isolation for older people, there is a significant chance that loneliness will also be reduced.
We put together some ideas to help break down social isolation that either you or a loved one are feeling. Here are some tips for reducing social isolation for older people.
Tips for reducing Social Isolation for older people.
1. Make a Furry Friend.
Caring about something or someone other than ourselves can give our lives a sense of purpose and drive. Also there’s added bonus of something to cuddle and pet! Pet therapy is proven to be medicinal: it can lower blood pressure and anxiety, boost memory and contribute to mood and a sense of well being. Obviously not everyone is in the situation to be caring for a pet, but it could be something to consider. You can find out more about pet adoption here: https://www.adoptapet.com.au/
2. Improving Mobility.
Transportation or a lack thereof can impact anyone’s plans. Inability to be mobile can affect an individuals motivation and also sense of self. Funds from an individual’s Home Care Package can actually be used to organise transportation if this is an assessed care need listed on their care plan, whether it be for a carer to escort them or for a taxi/ Uber to drive them.
Speak to your Care Manager if your mobility is impacting your ability to socialise. This can be a huge factor in social isolation for older people.
3. Following your passions and finding new hobbies.
What is something you or your loved one are passionate about? Do you love reading? Maybe you could join a book club. Do you love playing cards? Could you organise a weekly card night? If you’re musical how about joining a choir?
Volunteering is another great way of bringing meaning to your life and there are plenty of opportunities around. This way she has an opportunity to give back to others and in turn receive companionship herself.
Social isolation for older people often happens when we forget to do the things we love, and get stuck in routines of spending time by ourselves and not reaching out to the community around us and finding new things to do. Trying new activities or hobbies is a great way to keep your brain active too, not only do you get the social benefits, but also keep your brain working forming new connections.
4. Try Technology.
Social media isn’t only for the generation who were born into the tech age. There is plenty of research considering the use of technology to aid elderly individual’s loneliness and feelings of social isolation.
The premise of most social media is connectivity so it could be great solution to fighting social isolation.
The best part is you don’t need to be a tech whiz to connect with family and friends. There is Skype, email, Facebook messenger and Facetime, all created to help you combat boundaries of geography and see the face of your loved one.
Try teaching Mum or Dad to use one of these. They might be hesitant at first, but many people learn to love it and the new opportunities it brings them!
If you’d like some ideas of technology solutions that might be worth a try, we’ve put together a blog post that runs through some: https://letsgetcare.com.au/technology-as-an-older-person/
Technology can be a great solution for reducing social isolation for older people, particularly those who live in remote or rural areas where social connection might not be possible on a day to day basis.
5. Research which resources are available.
There are a lot of care services that attempt to fight social isolation. There are many different support and service providers who have carers available to provide companionship or help connect people feeling lonely in the community to friends, support and face to face connectivity.
There are also plenty of online resources where you can read about programs or initiatives that are available to reduce social isolation for older people. Some of these resources also include tips for reducing social isolation for older people or groups and programs you could consider joining.
Here are some examples of resources available if you are feeling lonely or worried about social isolation for older people:
Lifeline: for support and guidance about things you can do to decrease feeling of loneliness.
- delivering a free national phone support service (FriendLine)
- establishing 12 new Village Hubs across Australia.
Ending Loneliness Together: a national network of organisations who have been working together since 2016 to build the evidence-base and tools to address loneliness in Australia.
6. A Hug goes A Long Way.
There’s nothing quite like a hug. Research has shown that friendly and platonic touching from family members, like hand-holding and hugging can lower stress levels. Obviously not everyone is touchy-feely, but try a hug upon greetings and farewells.
You can always ask as well if the person feels comfortable being hugged, but it a great way to release feel-good chemicals and increase connection. This is a great way to reduce social isolation for older people.
7. Help out a Caregiver.
Family caregivers who are helping to care for an elderly loved one are often placing more emphasis on their loved one’s care needs than their own. Caregiving itself can actually trigger social isolation for older people. If you are a caregiver remember to take time for yourself. Or if you know a caregiver or a loved one in your family who takes the burden of caregiving, take whatever steps you can to make that person’s life easier. This could mean finding an external carer to relieve the primary caregiver. Or looking into some respite services to allow that individual some time for themselves.
We hope this article has been helpful with some tips for reducing social isolation for older people. If you’d like to find out some ways that your Home Care Package might be able to support your social isolation reach out to your Care Manager.