It is a sad fact that many seniors experience loneliness. As elderly people start to lose their ability to maintain their independence, they may begin to feel as though they are a burden on their loved ones. In the meantime, their families become occupied with their own lives that now consist of spouses, children, and careers, and they frequently struggle to find the time to visit elderly relatives. Sadly, many families don’t bother to make it a priority.
Certain disorders associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s can also sometimes discourage family members from visiting elderly relatives as witnessing their loved one decompensate can be too difficult for some people. Additionally, their loved ones that the elderly had been close to at one time may have passed away, only further impacting their sense of loneliness.
Although board and care facilities provide the support of nursing staff and the companionship of other residents, this alone often fails to combat the sense of loneliness in seniors. They often miss their loved ones and their former homes, and they yearn to have visitors. Well, there are things that individuals and communities can do to make a positive impact in the lives of seniors by providing companionship.
Holidays can be amongst the loneliest times for seniors. A few ideas to provide holiday cheer to the elderly include sending Christmas and Hanukkah cards to your local nursing home. If you are a teacher or a parent, you can even get your classroom or children involved by purchasing arts and craft supplies and creating homemade cards together. Another idea would be to get your church group together to visit a nursing home and sing Christmas Carols and distribute small gifts such as hygiene items and coffee mugs.
However, it’s important to not forget about the elderly for the remaining part of the year. Sometimes just stopping by your local nursing home on a Saturday simply to sit down and talk to the residents can bring sunshine to their day. You can also speak to the director of your local nursing home to obtain permission to host a weekly activity such as a Bingo game. Although many board and care facilities already offer recreational activities to their residents, not all facilities provide this service, and some welcome volunteers. Be sure to clear your idea with the administrative staff at your local nursing home as policies may vary.
Should you have an elderly relative, regardless of whether they reside in a boarding and care facility or continue to live at home, don’t forget to stay in touch with them. If the distance is an issue, call them and check on them or pull out that stationery that’s been collecting dust and write them a good old-fashioned letter. Even if your relative happens to be in a good facility that provides top-notch care, they still miss you. Spend as much time as you possibly can with them for the day will eventually come when you will no longer have that chance.
Simple gestures like visits, cards, and letters can brighten the day for seniors in your community and help to combat their sense of loneliness.