Company Is Vital for Older People: How to Help Family and Friends Stay Sociable as They Age – As your loved ones get older, they may need extra assistance with everyday tasks, such as household chores, preparing meals and managing medications. The requirement to help seems obvious, though it can be challenging to avoid indirectly making them feel like you are taking over or that they are becoming a burden. This can be especially tricky as many older people value their independence so highly that they can be reluctant to ask for assistance from others.
With the ongoing pandemic, lockdown restrictions allowed many people of all ages to understand and experience social isolation, especially those who live alone. Socialising was reinvented through digital means, which was embraced by some through regular video calls or social quizzes, though for others, the social isolation contributed to extreme loneliness, which saw mental health-related conditions increase significantly worldwide.
While most of us stay social through our busy lifestyle, including work and interests, this can be more difficult for older people due to various factors. They may lack confidence, and for some, health issues may limit their possibilities, such as travelling or taking part in physical activities. Not knowing how to work with modern technology can also hinder their communication options. With these possible limitations in mind, there are many considerations that we can make to ensure that our loved ones remain as sociable as possible while they get older.
This article shares some ideas for how you can help family members, or older friends, to remain sociable and feel supported.
Look At Care at Home Instead of a Care Home
When older people begin to have struggles in later years, this can create worries for them around the possibility of moving into a care home. While this may be the best option for overall health in some circumstances, depending on the level of care required for your loved one, there are services available that could work as an alternative to care homes, bringing the necessary level of care to them. Look for services in your local area; for example, if you’re in Melksham, Abney and Baker offer a range of services to help with home care, including home help, companionship, personal care and respite care.
Figuring out the needs of your older friends or family members, understanding available options and making decisions can be overwhelming, so support like these home care services in Melksham can help take away the daunting prospect of a care home and provide support to your loved one from the comfort of their own home. This approach will mean that someone checks in on your loved one at least once a day, but that they still get to live in the comfort of their own home.
Socialising Can Benefit Mental Health
Loneliness can play a vital role in affecting mental health. Overthinking is linked to increased anxiety and depression, so while some time alone can seem beneficial, too much of it is not suitable for health and wellbeing. A sense of loneliness can prevail if days become monotonous, so checking in even for a few minutes with loved ones every day can make a huge difference and let them know you are thinking of them. The simple offer of providing transport for them or delivering shopping could go a long way to helping them or letting them know you are planning an upcoming visit can help by giving them something to look forward to.
You can also help your loved ones combat loneliness by encouraging them to keep an active mind through activities. Whether joining a new social club or taking up a new hobby, there are usually numerous options for local activities. These can include gardening, crafts, knitting, light sports exercise or swimming. These can play a vital role in helping your loved ones, especially if they are retired.
Volunteering is another excellent option for your loved ones to stay sociable, especially if they are retired or don’t have other regular commitments. This could be within numerous options that suit their interests, and employers can sometimes be flexible with working hours. Volunteering is an excellent opportunity for your loved ones to learn new skills and meet new people while knowing they are making a difference by offering their time to help others. This can be exceptional for social, physical, and mental wellbeing. Volunteer roles can vary, so ask around within the local community or check out opportunities online to get started.
As your friends and family get older, physical activities may not always be ideal. Consider online learning as an alternative, as there are hundreds of free online courses available from top universities and specialist organisations to help them keep an active mind and improve their skillset. These courses can be done in their own time, so they can easily adapt them around their social life and health needs.
Understandably, although we would like to visit and help our older family members as they get older, this can become less frequent due to other commitments. Helping them get set up on social media could be a great way to implement a sense of engagement and open communication options. Showing them how to use available features to their full effect can relieve boredom, for example, looking through their friend’s holiday pictures, which can be excellent for mental wellbeing.
Health Benefits to Staying Social
It is not only mental wellbeing that can benefit from socialising. Studies have found that those who visit friends or family almost daily are less likely to develop dementia. There is also research that shows social isolation and loneliness are linked to serious health conditions, including higher risks of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and suicide, so encouraging and helping loved ones stay in touch regularly is crucial on many levels.
Using these considerations will help friends and family members who are older stay social, keep busy and lower their risks from several severe health conditions while improving their overall mental well-being.