As human beings, we have a set of basic needs in life- Food, shelter, oxygen, clothing, and relationship. Without any one of these things we suffer. Without some, we will die and without others, we will never thrive. While most are obvious and tangible, relationship is abstract. However, it is a need we have from birth and a need that never goes away until the day we die. As you enter your elder years, so many things begin changing and you slowly, or quickly, lose more and more of your independence. How much more important the need for relationship becomes. Loneliness increases the risk for depression, higher blood pressure, inactivity, smoking, and even dementia. If you have a loved one who is elderly, consider the following 5 ways you can help meet this vital need.
Loneliness and Depression in Elderly: 5 Ways You Can Help
The problem many seniors face is feeling isolated. Life slows down. You don’t get out as much as you used to. Family may not visit as often as before. Or you may be receiving care in a facility. Consider the following 5 ways you can help your aging loved ones not feel alone, whether at home or in an assisted living facility.
1) Visit them.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is more and more common for seniors to go without visits from family and friends. Sit down with them and engage in conversation. Listen to them, even if they repeat the same stories again and again. Give them the gift of your time and companionship. Tell them about your life, too. Find out what interests them and talk about it.
2) Help them find a hobby.
Doing anything is a good way to combat loneliness. Inactivity magnifies feelings of isolation. Help them find a new hobby they can take up like gardening, painting, or playing bridge. Encourage activities they can do in groups. This will give them social interaction and purpose.
3) Give them something to care for.
Nurturing relieves feelings of social isolation. Give them a pet, if they are able to care for it, and help them get started. You can also give them a plant or help them get started gardening. Give them something to focus their attention and care on when they are alone.
4) Promote and facilitate dining with others.
There is nothing like sharing a meal with those you love. As often as possible make sure they are sharing meals with others. With you and other family. Recruit others to join you. Make it a regular occasion they can look forward to.
5) Meet their needs.
There is nothing that makes you feel more alone than having needs that go unmet. Find out what they need. If they are home, make sure they are being taken care of. Make sure their lawn is mowed, they have the groceries and medicines they need, and their house is cleaned and kept neat. If they are in a facility, have a conversation with the care providers about their needs.
Give them Your Time
At the end of the day, there not anything that helps fight loneliness better than the companionship of loved ones. Whatever you do, make sure to spend time with them often. Use this guide to addressing loneliness and depression in elderly to get started, but be creative. At Unlimited Care Cottages, we are proactive in addressing our senior guests’ needs for relationship and companionship. Contact Us for more information on how we help our senior guests keep from feeling isolated in our assisted living cottages.