Every day a rising number of seniors live alone, feeling less happy, less secure financially and more anxious (source: the Guardian). They don’t have spouses or children to take care of them or their loved ones live far away. Despite their isolation, they still need help with various routines or just having someone as a company.
What about if one day their bell rings and someone comes to visit them? Think about the smile that would spread to their face. Whether you have just 5 minutes or an hour to give to another person, that’s enough to make someone feel less lonely and to help with small things. Here are some tips on how you can support those living alone.
“All the lonely people,
where do they all come from?
All the lonely people,
where do they all belong?”
The Beatles -Eleanor Rigby
How to support those living alone?
Supporting those living alone is mostly just about giving your time even a little, helping with a small task or just showing that you care. Take a look below what works the best for you regarding how much time you can spare.
Helping with the small housework
You can start by helping with the small housework like taking the rubbish out. It takes only 5 minutes from you, but it helps someone who can’t move around so easily or lift heavy things.
There is no need to do it every day, but every now and then would be nice, especially if it’s a very hot or icy day when it’s even more challenging to walk outside. This small gesture shows that someone cares and it helps their everyday tasks. Here are some ideas with what you can help:
- Take the rubbish out
- Bring in the mail
- Help to unpack their groceries
- Water their plants
- Clear their drive or path
The power of petting a dog, listening to music and doing art
Do you have a dog or a cat? You could ask your neighbour if they would like to pet your dog. It has been proven that pet therapy reduces depression, anxiety and loneliness. Just a few strokes and that can already make a difference.
Music and art have also been proven to help people to feel happier, healthier and to connect with others. If you find a beautiful tune, why don’t you share it with your neighbour?
Or if you are crafting Christmas cards, you could ask someone lonely to come to help you with the cards and offer a cup of tea for them. That could be fun for both of you.
Call, visit or invite for a cup of tea: we just want someone to talk to
I’ve met many lonely old people when I was working as a bank cashier. Every day they came to the bank to withdraw a small amount of money, lingering at the counter even though the line was getting longer, as they wanted to have a discussion with someone – just anyone.
We are social animals and therefore it is very humane to want someone to talk to. Asking someone “how are you doing” is a small thing to do, but it makes people feel like they belong to the pack.
Reach out with a call, invite for a cup of tea or just ask when passing by about their day. Say yes to an invitation to come for a visit and give an hour to make someone happy for a day.
Going to the supermarket or a walk? Do you mind the company?
Another nice gesture would be to ask a senior to join you to the supermarket or a walk you were gonna take anyways. Those things are so normal tasks for a person who is in good health that one tends to do it without even thinking about it. However, for someone else, it might be a big thing.
Going to the store may be a big threshold for someone who can’t move that easily. Having a lift to a store and someone helping to carry the groceries lowers the threshold and makes the visit much easier.
It’s the same thing with walks especially when the weather is hot or cold. The fact that someone is involved in a walk can reduce stress because then you know that you can rely on the other or get some help fast in case something happens.
Join a local NGO to spread the good
Don’t worry if you’d love to help but you don’t know anyone in need of company. In some cities, there are also local NGOs (a non-profit organisation) you can join to spread the good.
A quick Google search can help you to find one from your city. For example, in Manchester, there is the Manchester cares community network that states their objectives to be reducing isolation and loneliness, improving connections and bringing young and old people together.
How to find a home care agency?
Some people need more help to get through all the everyday routines and their best solution is to have a home care agency to come to help.
As there are many domiciliary care companies to choose from, it can be confusing to find the right one. One way to help a lonely elder person is to find a home care agency to assist.
Most of the information can be found on the web, but remember that elder people might not be as tech savvy as you are, so help is well-needed. Search from Google and Facebook for information and recommendations. CQC lists all care companies and provides information on how the companies are doing.