Humans aren’t meant to be alone; we are stronger as a group, aren’t we? Elderly, disabled and singles living at home and going through rehab, illness or the changes from aging are often lonely, because they can’t leave the house anymore like they used to – or at least as often. Living independently has become a problem and while it often helps to share concerns or to just chat away, sometimes there simply is nobody available. Family might not live close by and friends might have passed or are busy with their own lives. Often affected persons don’t talk to anybody for days and get depressed without knowing a way out of their misery.
Here are some ways you can help your loved ones or people in your neighborhood who you know need more interaction with others.
Make communicating a priority.
We know there is nothing better than an in-person visit, but that is not always possible, whether because of physical distance or just busy schedules. However, with today’s technology it is easy to stay in touch using social media, smart phones, and apps like Facetime or Skype so you can visually observe how people are feeling. A virtual game of scat or chess with an actual playmate, that could be located anywhere, can brighten one’s day. We also recommend setting a certain day to make a phone call gives the homebound person something to look forward to each week.
Encourage and assist with social activities.
Hopefully physical and mental condition will allow an individual to find connection at a church or a fun club. Depending on one’s preferences, there are uncountable options of entertainment, like sports clubs, crafting and book clubs to only name some of them. Some of those clubs meet multiple times a week and pursue a variety of activities, like social dinners or exploration of different parts of the city. It’s not boring, it is the contrary, it is so much fun. Likeminded people of all ages come together and share common interests which leads to new friendships. Even taking classes at a local adult education center or volunteering at a non-profit, sports events or animal shelter can be an option for socializing and finding distractions. The biggest problem is often transportation and initially a willingness to attend the activity with your friend or loved one. We highly recommend finding transportation options for them or a couple of people from a church or civic league who could be on your list to help. Though it takes a lot of work on your part initially, it can become a very supportive way to get people out of their homes.
Bring back positive memories to encourage interests at home
Often, we find people who had hobbies before they became sick or older, don’t think they can do those activities again or just don’t know how to get started again. Try to get them to share by looking at old pictures or magazines or ask where they got some item that you see on a table in their home. Getting them to talk about something visual can bring out valuable stories. Let them know how much you appreciate them sharing with you. Then gentle ask how they did a certain activity or event and what they enjoyed about it. See if you can get them interested in working on a project…maybe knitting caps for children in a homeless shelter or reading certain kinds of books or even organizing a drawer can get someone moving along!
Activities like the ones listed above can result in a chain reaction, to network in that way can attract many new learning opportunities, exciting experiences, support in the community and friends. If you need assistance in helping someone to participate in more activity or transportation, we can certainly assist you. Our caregivers at Caring Hearts and Hands have a lot of experience in working with people who are living alone. Just call us at 757-873-4000.