As your loved ones age, facing loneliness and isolation is almost inevitable. One by one, their young ones leave the nest and eventually, parents and grandparents are by themselves, growing together with their spouses or an acute circle of friends to rely on for their social lives, as the rest of us get consumed by the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.
Even so, the feeling of loneliness will slowly kick in, leading to their sedentary lifestyle that will trickle into a decline in health and increasing their risks of physical and mental conditions like heart diseases, depression, and dementia.
Studies have shown that conversely, seniors who actively and intentionally engage in fruitful activities and meaningful conversations tend to have longer lifespans, a better mood and an overall sense of purpose, directly impacting their cognitive functionalities and wellbeing.
In 2018, the world’s first ever Minister of Loneliness was appointed in the U.K. Though it might seem odd to the public as to why this position is necessary, some others are supportive of the government’s efforts to shed some light onto the topic of loneliness and the stigma that prevents people from getting help. One might even say it’s a troubling paradox in this world of social media and advanced digital connectivity but when it comes to loneliness, it is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
In other parts of the world like France and Singapore, postmen do weekly check-in visits on the elderly while making their postal rounds, which has made a difference in lifting morale and ensuring the elderly are always looked after.
Here we explore how home care can help seniors deal with loneliness.
Loneliness doesn’t only occur at home. Your loved ones can be surrounded by tons of other seniors and still feel isolated. Why?
Because at the root of it, loneliness is not defined by the number of people you are exposed to but how many meaningful relationships you have, which is not measured by the quantity of people but by the quality of conversations. Caregivers are able to provide your seniors the companionship they need. Having a person to build meaningful connections and enjoy light-hearted conversations with can help improve mental health and social well-being of your elderly loved ones.
2. Empowering independence
With home care, seniors do not need to travel out of their homes but they are still able to do in-house activities independently, such as gardening or cooking. It helps to have someone to share simple joys such as telling others about their first fruit harvest or sharing the recipe of their favourite dish.
With a caregiver at home, they are also assured that someone will be there even when they do simple exercises to keep their physical health in check. Every minute counts and present caregivers are able to get prompt medical help or assistance in the event of a fall or injury.
3. Maintaining familiarity
Loneliness for seniors can be as abrupt as losing their better half in a matter or days or during periods of isolation that may have prolonged over months and years, which can be a vicious self-perpetuating cycle . For some dementia patients, feelings of loneliness can cause a decline in cognitive abilities over time.
With a familiar face and trusted individual who is frequently there for them as their confidante, seniors do not have to go through the anxiety of being unable to put a name to the face and having difficulties remembering new people. It also eliminates the feeling of constant fear of being disoriented with their day-to-day because they forgot what they’ve done the day or weeks before.
4. Renewed sense of purpose
Encouraging seniors to learn a new skill set or do a new thing every week can ignite a renewed sense of purpose for seniors by having achievable small goals that can motivate them to look forward to new experiences such as intergenerational mentoring or teaching young ones how to tie various types of knots. It may even lead them to discover something they didn’t know they were good at, such as marathon running or playing a guitar.
Older adults with a higher sense of purpose tend to retain strong hand grips and walking speeds, which are key indicators to how rapidly people are ageing and leads us to our final point in the next line.
5. Prolonging a good quality of life
Getting home care can indirectly have an effect on the longevity of your senior loved one. With meal preparations based on their dietary needs and a check-in on their personal hygiene, which in turn contributes to better nutrition and overall care. A plus side would be spending time with grandchildren and even great grandchildren well into their golden years.
Besides that, families are able to reduce long-term medical costs that are attributed to loneliness that can be prevented such as heart disease, body inflammation and other chronic health conditions.
Intentionality is key
By tying in the benefits of home care for loneliness, it is after all how a senior loved one achieves the best quality of care in their lifetime. As children and grandchildren, we will always want to provide the best for seniors to be able to age gracefully and take care of them as how they would have taken care of us when we were little.