It’s no doubt that we’re in the midst of a loneliness epidemic. What started as a common problem faced by ageing individuals has now become a widespread issue faced by millions.
Despite younger people being more likely to experience loneliness, it’s been revealed that men aged over 85 have the highest rate of suicide. This troubling fact can be attributed to the physical pain that may come with ageing, the care they receive or the loss of partners and family members.
Moreover, 30 per cent of Australians aged 75-84 live by themselves which is a likely contributing factor to physical and emotional isolation. If your ageing parent lives in an isolated living arrangement, they may be more likely to develop feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression, but there are ways you can help to combat their sense of loneliness.
Set aside some time for weekly visits
If you’re noticing that your ageing loved ones’ emotional or physical state is declining, the best thing you can do is be there for them.
Phone calls or texting may help to alleviate some feelings of loneliness, however it won’t beat the benefits of face-to-face communication. By setting aside an hour or two to spend quality time with your ageing loved ones, you can help them form a sense of connection. If you live close to your ageing parent or parents, visit them on the way home from work or while you’re running errands during the day. If there is distance between you and your loved one, mark out a certain day of the week to travel to them.
Provide a sense of personal responsibility
For many ageing individuals, a loss of a sense of purpose or responsibility can contribute to their emotional and physical decline. Offering your ageing parent exactly that – something to take care of – can help them feel that they’re able to have responsibility. This can be especially useful if your ageing parent is concerned about becoming a financial or emotional burden on others.
To provide a sense of responsibility to your loved one, you could buy them with some indoor plants or a low-maintenance pet to take care of.
Suggest alternative ways of connecting
More and more baby boomers are embracing technology and its useful abilities – and there is no shortage of support for older people to get onboard with social media technology. With some patience, perseverance and practice it can be quick and easy for your loved ones to get digitally connected.
A good starting point might be an easy-to-use mobile phone that comes with a simple user guide.
Ensure they have a method of transport
Being able to travel to appointments, shops and appointments is the most important part of being independent. However, without an accessible transport method, independence isn’t that simple. By providing your ageing parents or parent with a trustworthy transport option, you can help them to feel in control and self-reliant.
If your parent is able to drive, helping them purchase a safe car may be the right option. If not, you can help them organise an alternative such as a carpooling service, taxi, public transport or you can even organise a motivated, independent support worker via a platform like Mable.
Bring them along to events you’d like to attend
To help your loved one feel more included in their local community, you should remember to invite them along to any upcoming community events such as farmers’ markets, festivals, theatre productions or music nights. If you’re going to invite them to an event, make sure you tell them at least a week in advance so they don’t feel overwhelmed or pressured.
Ask them if they’d like in-home support
Although starting a conversation about aged care can be difficult, it doesn’t have to be. With good intentions and by keeping in mind your ageing parents’ wishes and lifestyle, you can help them thrive and live a life with choice, freedom and independence. Ready to start talking about aged care, but not sure where to start? Take a look at our conversation starters.
If you think your ageing parent could benefit from a hand around the house or garden, you can search for support workers on Mable. Through Mable’s safe and easy-to-use online platform, you can schedule, monitor and manage support on behalf of your loved one and connect with workers who meet their unique preferences.
Are you an independent support worker on Mable? If you think your client may be feeling lonely, here are some ways you can help them overcome their isolation.
When the time comes to organise in-home care and support for your ageing parents, you can head to Mable and start searching for cost-effective support options in your loved ones’ local community.