Help Fight Loneliness
A big problem for seniors is that of loneliness. We’ve written this article to help seniors, their families, and professional caregivers to help create healthy, active lives that fight loneliness.
You may have connected with organizations that will help you help others. If you’re not connected, have a look for local agencies in your city by Googling the name of your city and adding the term “seniors association” to find local support. You can also speak with a social worker, staff in your doctor’s office, and checkout the Caregiver’s Association of Alberta.
Some folks enjoy time to themselves, and they may not feel lonely. Being lonely is about a sense of isolation that can bring on feelings of sadness, decreased appetite, and contribute to people closing themselves off even more. The list here are some practical things you can do to help fight loneliness for people you care for, including your parents, grandparents, neighbours, and yourself.
If you’re going to visit someone you don’t know that well and find it awkward, create a list of conversation starters. Although this idea may sound silly, it really works because you’ll always have something to talk about! Avoid topics that you know are hot buttons for the other person. Ask open questions so that you don’t accidentally kill the conversation or make it awkward. Since loneliness can be worse if someone spends a lot of time living in the past, it’s important to try and learn about the person while encouraging them to appreciate the present. For example, if they loved playing football and you know of a high school or university football team in the area, you could find out when the next game is and go watch it together.
- What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life? (Great discussion starter)
- What’s your favourite lunchtime snack? (You could make lunch together)
- What kind of reading / shows do you enjoy? (How about a trip to the library?)
- Who were your friends when you were growing up? (More great discussions)
- What were your favourite activities / sports at school? (A great way to connect with activities of interest in the community)
Get out of the house
If mobility is not a challenge, offer to take someone out for a fancy tea or coffee and get them out of their home. There are lots of independent places, or you could visit a big chain. Stopping at a local park and taking in an outdoor exercise class for seniors, or having some fun with an activity reminds people what is happening in the community.
If mobility is a challenge, bring a fancy drink to them or bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it together. Sharing pictures from your laptop or a tablet can help bring the outside to someone who is confined indoors.
Help the kids
If your kids are shy or find it awkward to go visiting with you, help them out by giving them a list of conversation starters, too. They might be fascinated by some topic but find it hard to ask about something and you can help them out. You can also take a game that’s kid and family friendly that everyone can play – cards, board games, and puzzles (get the right sized pieces for your crowd) are often a hit. If you don’t have any games handy, you can often pick them up inexpensively at Value Village or borrow them from the library. Get creative with this, and don’t think you have to stick with old fashioned games. Modern card games for older kids and adults like Mad Gab, or Cards Against Humanity, are a hoot.
Take a class together
With great little businesses like Clay and Cupcakes, Plant Nite, and Paint Nite available, plenty of fun can be had in stress free, short, creativity based outings. Of course, there are always longer classes to commit to, and seniors love classes that are short one-time events (like a how-to class on computers, for example), and longer series of classes, too. If you know of a group of seniors who share interest in a topic, you can even bring the instructor to them to make things easier to coordinate.
If you know a senior who is lonely, speak with them about what they want to do. They may need just a little help, or a few ideas. They might want to do something that makes them feel appreciated, or needed, or valuable. They may want to do something that offers a distraction, or do something creative, or perhaps they really need some medical help and are afraid to ask. If you can’t help them get what they’re after, get their permission to speak with a social worker, health care provider, and whomever else you need to. Regular social visits, activities, and outings can make a huge difference in people’s lives, replacing loneliness with purpose and motivation.
At Elder Move Inc. we help seniors to downsize, organize, and relocate. We’re specialists at making sure that your home is the place where you feel comfortable, safe, and content. If you’re interested in getting some help and you’re in the Edmonton, AB, complete the contact form and get in touch!