Keeping in touch with your loved ones on a regular basis is good for them and you.
Steady, genuine interactions with elderly or aging parents are a priceless way of staying connected, showing you care and keeping them from feeling lonely. An otherwise active, happy person, who suddenly moved, lost a driver’s license or faced health challenges can be overcome with loneliness and isolate themselves from others.
Is your aging parent struggling with loneliness? Ask them, reach out, listen and get to know how the challenges of growing older are affecting them. Help them to talk about their feelings and listen. Reassure them, show compassion and look for solutions with them.
Encourage an elderly parent by going to an event, class or workshop together. Accompanying a shy or lonely elder somewhere new can brighten their outlook. Do things they once enjoyed to stimulate happy memories of the past: Make a recording of their favorite songs; arrange to watch a classic movie or Broadway show, sing oldie-goldies together.
If distance is an issue, use technology to maintain thriving connections. Teach them to use a video-chat program such as Skype or Google Hangouts. The video feature makes everyone feel like they’re in the same room. Seeing the faces and hearing the voices of loved ones could become the highlight of their day.
Look for group hobby programs Mom and Dad might enjoy like stamp collecting, scrapbooking or chess. Interacting with a group, joking, laughing and sharing stories together invites connection, creates friendships and boosts overall wellbeing. Find volunteer opportunities in their areas of interest; volunteering in the community is a rewarding way to make new social connections and share talents with others.
It can be hard for a lonely person to think about engaging with others so have a Plan B. If they’re not ready to go out yet, encourage friends and family to call or visit them; send cards and small gifts on days other than birthdays and holidays; arrange for a weekly housekeeper or gardener and continue to maintain a constant connection with them.
Everyone has a bucket list: Ask them what theirs is and start checking items off! When seniors stay in touch with others and are encouraged to stay active, feelings of loneliness can be significantly lessened.