Loneliness is a feeling that arises in response to a lack of emotional connection with others. Loneliness can often lead to Social Isolation 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 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!
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, whether it be for a carer to escort them or for a taxi/ Uber to drive them.
3. Following your passions and finding new hobbies.
What is Mum passionate about? Does she love reading? Maybe she could join a book club. Does she love playing cards? See if she can organise a weekly card night. If she’s 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.
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!
5. Research which resources are available.
There are a lot of care services that attempt to fight social isolation. Companies like Mable have carers available to connect people feeling lonely in the community to friends, support and face to face connectivity.
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.
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. 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.