It’s no secret that loneliness is a growing problem amongst older people, and in care homes it can be a particularly difficult issue to resolve. According to research by Age UK, 49% of people over the age of 65 say that the television or pets are their main form of company, 41% say that they feel out of touch with the pace of modern life, and 30% would like to go out more.
If you’ve noticed that residents in your care home don’t spend much time socialising, or aren’t having many visitors, it’s a good idea to step in early to do something about it. Loneliness in the elderly can have a wide range of repercussions, and studies have even shown that those who report a high degree of loneliness are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Luckily, there are ways of combating loneliness in your care home, so you can create an environment which is sociable and positive for everyone to enjoy.
All too often, residents spend most of their time in their bedrooms and don’t get enough opportunities to talk to others. One of the simplest ways of preventing loneliness in care homes is to organise regular activities to give people the chance to socialise.
One idea could be to organise clubs to get people with similar interests together. A book club is always a popular idea, and is a great way to get people talking. You could also set up an arts and crafts club, a choir, a film club or a board games club. All of these activities can help to get people together regularly, to keep loneliness at bay.
If residents aren’t able to get out to meet people, why not hold an event which gets the community to come to them instead? This could involve having a charity bake sale, inviting schools to come and give musical performances, or finding visitors to come and give talks on a range of subjects.
Some of these events could be focused on mental health, to encourage people to open up about this often difficult subject. As mental health education has only become more prevalent in recent years, older people may be more likely to suffer in silence and not seek help when they feel distressed, so it’s important to do everything you can to help encourage residents to speak up.
Many people living in care homes feel lonely because their family don’t visit regularly, and addressing this can have a profound impact on any feelings of loneliness they may have. Try speaking to the relatives of residents about the benefits that regular visits can have, not only on mood, but on overall health and wellbeing. It is now well known that an improvement in mental health can lead to an improvement in physical health, and amongst elderly people in particular this can make a significant difference.
To encourage relatives to visit more frequently, you could put on family events, and include activities for children as well as for adults. This could transform the visiting experience at your care home and encourage families to do more than simply stop by and talk. The key to combating loneliness is helping people to connect, so get your team together and see what you can do to make your care home a more sociable place to be.