3 steps to help the elderly battle lockdown loneliness
With snow, rain and these shorter days it is perfectly normal to feel down and out. With a lockdown raging on it is even more normal for the elderly and those who live alone to feel isolated, alone and afraid of what’s to come. Winter can be difficult after Christmas; the road ahead is uncertain, and we struggle to have things to look forward to. However, simple things make such a difference right now. As a care company, we understand the difficulty for the elderly at the minute and feel like we are in a good place to advise you in helping yourself, or a loved one battle the winter days to come and the spring on the horizon.
Here are three points from us at Premier Care on how you can aid that elderly neighbour, friend or loved one with loneliness during lockdown:
1. Improving a lockdown lifestyle with technology
A text or an email can brighten an elderly person's day. That daily dose of interaction, even though it lacks the face-to-face nature of regular conversation can do so much to engage the brain. Sending your loved one a photo from their past and asking them questions in relation to it can trigger their brain throughout the day to think of a detailed response. Sending them a picture of them on a past holiday and asking them about the trip, for example, can cause them to assess their memory of it and provide a thoughtful and informative answer for the both of you to email or call about.
On a foundational level it will stimulate their brain and their memory of happier times, encouraging even the smallest of things to engage you both and give them a small purpose or goal for the day!
As we continue to be stuck at home there are many things that can aid the elderly in home living. One of those being a smart home device to provide shortcuts for them to better manage their home.
Though technology changes so often, and even for those in the know it can be impossible to keep up, the presence of a voice-activated daily assistant in the home is a cost-effective and useful bit of kit to control devices round the house, make calls, provide entertainment, and answer over 100 million unique questions. And they tend to be very simple to learn, integrating well into your loved ones life. You can link it to the TV, radio, thermostat and more by installing a compatible device and activating connections on your phone’s Home app. This virtual helper responds to voice commands, which means that someone with limited vision or reduced finger dexterity can easily use it.
It is also important to nurture their existing relationships with this technology. Now more than ever it may feel impossible to sustain friendships for the elderly as everything is on hold. However, it is easy to help them get set up for a weekly Zoom quiz with their friends if they have the appropriate technology in their home or at the very least get them set up on FaceTime!
2. Improving a lockdown lifestyle with observation
Whenever you can, whether it be a socially distanced walk, or internet calls, to observe the demeanour of your elderly loved one. Mental health is often invisible, but you know that person best and with close and meaningful conversation they often subconsciously indicate their mental state. It is crucial that you talk to them and support them in opening up about it. It can’t all be fixed with a conversation though, and simply offering help can make a big impact, such as doing the shopping for them and buying them a sickly treat to brighten up their weekend! You may find resistance to this, because of denial or embarrassment, but being persistent and a person to rely on for them will do wonders for their mental state.
3. Improving a lockdown lifestyle with routine
Not being able to do usual activities can be jarring for the elderly, in the care world it is crucial to help them maintain a routine to make their day-to-day life feel purposeful and organised. That ideology doesn’t have to be put on hold because of this temporary pandemic, a new routine can be made now too with your help. Try and make sure your loved one is up at the same time each day and they have a clear plan for the day ahead however small, such as tidying the home, gardening or going for a walk.
Help them separate their days up into smaller tasks to make it feel more productive for them. A balance between chores and leisure, even when you can’t leave the home for long, does make the day feel more productive divided up into allotted parts of the day.
And don’t forget to encourage them to eat three meals a day!
Finally, remind them that, although it’s important to remain up to date on the news at the minute, not to become fixated on it. Encourage your loved one to only check it once a day and stick to reliable news sources to make sure that the news they receive is not inaccurate as at a time like this it can massively affect the elderly’s morale.
Loneliness is difficult even without a pandemic, but there is a light on the horizon for all of us during these uncertain times. Soon we will be able to support our elderly relatives face-to-face and return to the joys of life. Helping the elderly with just some of these tips could make them improve.
If an elderly loved one experiences depression, you can make a difference by offering emotional support. However, it isn’t your responsibility to ‘fix’ or ‘cure’ someone’s depression, so don't put that pressure on yourself. Rather, it’s more important to just be there, understanding their feelings, diagnosis, and treatment. Supporting your family member while they search for a a long term option for their future such as a care home or domiciliary care services and aiding them in their selection of what's next will make them feel supported. However, until then, we hope that this insight can help you support those you love who may be living alone...