Tackling Loneliness Among the Elderly

Tackling Loneliness Among the Elderly 

Elderly People in Ireland

In Ireland, 60% of elderly people aged 80 and over live alone and 1/3 of people aged 65 and over are living on their own. These numbers will likely climb as families are getting smaller, divorces etc. We may be living longer but we still age and as our mobility decreases we need looking after.

Causes of Loneliness 

Loneliness in older people can caused for a number of reasons – bereavement, location, finance, health etc.

The Effects of Loneliness 

Loneliness affects the physical, mental and emotional well-being of people. It is not just an emotion, it is a chronic condition and can have devastating health consequences among our older generation. According to health figures, it is believed to be twice as damaging to a persons health as obesity and it has the same affect as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Being lonely also makes the elderly a lot more susceptible to dementia and cardiovascular disease. Limited social interaction also means likelihood of less going out or exercising outdoors and lack of exercise has many side effects such as low mood and depression.

What can we do?

As younger people can lose their patience with the elderly, this leaves them feeling like they are a burden and it prohibits them to ask for help. We need to reassure our elderly relatives/friends that they should not be afraid to ask for our help and that they are more than deserving of our support.

Check in with the older people in the community, make a phone call to an elderly relative, you would be surprised at how much your company can make their day. A little bit of light is all it takes to brighten someones day.

Tips and Actions for Helping Elderly People Alleviate Loneliness 

  • Listen – Listening is something we don’t do enough, even for the people we love. Listening to someone who is feeling lonely will make them feel special and cared for and like what they are saying really matters.
  • Social inclusion – Help them get involved in socializing by helping them sign up for elderly groups that have activities and days out. You could even go along with them so as they are not on their own.
  • Teach – One of the best classrooms is at the feet of an elderly person so let them teach you what they know and share stories of the past. This sort of thinking is good for the elderly persons brain, it will give them a sense of importance and you can learn a lot from their wisdom.

50% of Nursing Home Residents Could Stay at Home

The quality of life for the senior members of society has always been a topic of conversation throughout Ireland and is regularly in the national spotlight though media coverage.

Research published on ageaction.ie suggests that there is an increased need for home helps as waiting lists continue to grow and home care packages are increasing in popularity. Social workers estimate that 50% of those who are nursing home residents could live at home.

Evidence from the research confirms that the elderly and those suffering lifelong illnesses want to stay home as long as possible. Nursing Homes are being prioritised over services that enable people to stay at home. This research proposes that serious consideration needs to be taken place by the government in providing the appropriate social care approach to the individual needs of older people.

What It Takes To Be A Carer

Rewarding Work – What It Takes To Be A Carer

As people live longer, and we get better at preserving the lives of those who would otherwise have perished, more and more people are going through times when they need a bit of extra care. The care industry is thus an expanding one, in which kind, empathetic, practical, and dedicated people are always needed. It takes a special kind of person to be a carer or a nurse – someone who has both the practical skills and forthrightness needed to deal with people who may sometimes need specialist help, and the empathetic nature needed to treat these people with the respect and kindness which any human being deserves. Importantly, a good carer also needs to know how to take care of themselves. -What It Takes To Be A Carer

People in the caring profession are prone to feeling guilty when they do something for themselves – believing, due to their dedication, that their every waking moment should be devoted to their charges. In fact, being so selfless that you neglect yourself completely is a counterproductive quality in a carer. As well as being empathetic, knowledgeable about their charge’s condition, and imbued with a good deal of patience, a carer needs to be able to recognise the signs of frustration and burnout within themselves, and to take steps to prevent their emotional state from reaching a point where they start to resent those for whom they are caring.

Patience is something which must be practiced – it comes with experience. A carer therefore needs to have experience at recognising and dealing with their own triggers. They need to know how to calm themselves down when they find themselves getting emotional, and to maintain an equable disposition under the most trying of circumstances. Empathy can help a lot with this. While a certain degree of empathy is innate, an empathetic connection can be helped along if the carer takes the time to learn about how the patient’s condition affects their lives. This makes them less likely to apportion ‘blame’ to the patient themselves should they find their demands in any way frustrating.

Perhaps most importantly, a good carer should find their work rewarding. If you basically don’t like looking after people, the life of a carer is not for you! However, if you do like looking after people but are prone to either intense guilt or frustration, you may want to look at working on these aspects of your character. Guilt – while connected intimately in many ways to empathy – is counterproductive when applied poorly. If you feel guilty every time you do something for yourself, you will ultimately hit burnout and be emotionally unable to provide the quality of care needed by your charges. If you are prone to frustration, you need to learn to recognise the warning signs and develop a system for combating it. In both cases, ensuring that you have a reasonable amount of ‘me time’ can really help. For more on coping with caring, read this article

Author – Melissa

Caregiving, recognising signs of depression and how to cope with it.

While in the process of providing exceptional care to others, many caregivers fail to provide themselves with proper care. Providing proper care for others is oftentimes all-consuming, especially if the person receiving the care suffers from Alzheimer’s or is incontinent.

If you are an otherwise healthy and capable person but lately you’ve not been feeling “right,” the stress of your job may be taking a toll. Depression may be setting in, especially if you find yourself crying for no apparent reason, and/or feeling tired, angry, frustrated, anxious, or alone. Pay attention to these feelings; they’ll likely get worse if you don’t take action.

Here are some tips for avoiding the depression that often accompanies caregiving:

Take time out for Yourself
Caregivers rarely take time for themselves. If you’re not taking time to rest, eat well and exercise moderately, you will suffer. Maybe not today or next week, but it will happen. It really doesn’t take long to plan and prepare nutritionally-balanced meals and snacks. Doing so gives your body the fuel it needs to perform all the tasks you ask of it. You’ve got to get uninterrupted rest, too. Get exercise any way you can: gardening, housekeeping, going up and down stairs, walking the aisles of the grocery store, playing your favorite sport, even pushing a wheelchair can get your heart beating and your blood flowing.

Do things at your own pace
Do what you can, when you can. It may help to prioritise your caregiving duties. Focus on those daily tasks that absolutely must get done. Schedule the other tasks when you have time. Once you start to prioritise your work, you’ll notice that you actually get more accomplished.

Ask for Assistance
Speak with your family members about your need for help, and together, figure out when others can come in so you can have a break. If you have no family members, you’ve got to hire in-home help, or make arrangements at a senior day care facility. Do whatever it takes to get time off. YOUR health depends on this.

Put a Moratorium on Guilt
No one gains from feeling guilty, in fact, guilt is an immobilising emotion. Let it go and you’ll feel better instantly.

Have Some Fun
Keep social events on your calendar and your health will benefit. Get out to the movies, have coffee, – do whatever it is that you enjoy – in the company of others.