Many of us have experienced loneliness in lockdown. According to a survey by the Mental Health Foundation, one in four respondents said they had feelings of loneliness in the “previous two weeks”. This was up from one in ten before lockdown.

We have adapted to using new technologies which have at least partly made up for the lack of in-person connection. However, for many older people, this has not been possible. While lots of older people are comfortable using technology such as Skype and Zoom to stay in touch, this is certainly not the case for everyone.

There are many factors that affect how likely a person is to experience loneliness. According to the Age UK report All the Lonely People: Loneliness in Later Life, people aged 50 and over are more likely to be often lonely if they:

  • Have no one to open up to when they need to talk
  • Are widowed
  • Are in poor health
  • Feel as if they do not belong in their neighbourhood
  • Are unable to do what they want
  • Live alone

Six tips on how to support a loved one if you are worried they may be experiencing loneliness in lockdown

1.      Visiting an older person to prevent loneliness in lockdown

Many people are confused about the rules around visiting their older relatives during the lockdown. If you provide care for someone, whether that is doing their grocery shopping or helping them with everyday care, you are still allowed to do so. However, you should not visit them if you are showing any symptoms of Covid-19. Nor should you visit if you have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

The rules around visiting people in care homes is a little different. Each care home will have their strategy; however, they should allow you to visit your loved one where possible. Again, you should not do so if you experience symptoms or are self-isolating. If the care home has an outbreak of coronavirus then visits will not be possible.

Keeping up your visits is a great way to reduce elderly loneliness in lockdown. Even if it is just a chat at the doorstep, it will make a big difference to your loved one to have some connection.

2.      Make regular phone calls and video calls to help prevent loneliness in lockdown

If it is not possible to visit your loved one in person, then a regular phone call is the next best thing. A regular call will give your loved one something to look forward to as well as providing an opportunity for them to talk through any worries or problems they may be experiencing. It is very important to make time to listen to your loved one’s worries as opening up can make them feel much less lonely and isolated

If your loved one is confident with technology, they might like to have a video call using technology such as Skype or Zoom. If they don’t yet know how to use these technologies then a visitor or carer may be able to teach them, so they can stay in contact with other family members, too. You may even consider buying your loved one a tablet if they do not already have a device suitable for video calls. These are often simpler to use than PC’s or laptops and a lot more affordable.

Encourage younger family members to contact their older relatives, too. May older people are missing seeing grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so, wherever possible encourage them to join in with video calls or phone their grandparents themselves if they are old enough.

Of course, for some older relatives’ video calls and even phone calls are not possible. In this case, it is important to ensure that the care you have in place for your loved one is providing for their emotional needs. A home carer can offer invaluable support for an older person living alone and can significantly reduce feelings of loneliness in lockdown.

3.      Send cards and letters to boost feelings of connection

In our digital age, many of us have forgotten the art of letter writing. But a letter or card can really brighten a person’s day. Your loved one can also reread the letter whenever they are feeling lonely.

You might also encourage younger family members to write letters and cards and send pictures to their older relatives. A drawing from a grandchild would be sure to put a smile on your loved one’s face.

4.      Offer practical support to combat isolation in lockdown

Even if the amount of face to face contact you have with your loved one is limited you can still offer practical support. You can ask if they need anything and arrange orders and deliveries for them. You could also make them a care package with mood-boosting treats such as flowers, fancy toiletries, healthy treats, magazines, puzzle books or anything else that may bring them some cheer.

5.      Keep them healthy to improve wellbeing

People with poor health are more likely to experience negative emotions such as low mood, loneliness and anxiety. Do whatever you can to help your loved one stay as healthy as possible. Encourage them to eat properly and arrange to deliver them fresh food if necessary. Though it is tempting to spoil your loved one with chocolates and bottles of wine, make sure these are occasional treats only. You can also encourage them to stay as active as possible. This could be by walking around the garden with them or working through some chair exercises together.

6.      Help them keep their independence

All of us can relate to restrictions on our life causing us stress, anxiety, low mood and loneliness right now. It’s natural to feel sad when we can’t do what we want.

This can be far worse for older people during the lockdown. Making sure your loved one can choose their routines, such as when to go to bed and what to eat, can significantly improve their mental health. You can also encourage your loved one to take part in activities they enjoy so they feel more fulfilled.

Perhaps you could help your loved one order a new novel, DVD or craft activity to pass the time.

Mumby’s is here to help

If your loved one needs help overcoming loneliness in lockdown Mumby’s Homecare Support is here to help.

We offer safe companionship and emotional support during this difficult time. Our carers can assist with video conferencing to help your loved one to safely stay in touch with their friends and family during the lockdown. They will also proactively monitor the health and wellbeing of your loved one.

We believe that live-in homecare is the best possible choice for many older and more vulnerable people. Live-in homecare makes it possible to tailor care to each individual’s needs. It also ensures that the cared-for remain in control of how they live their lives.

Live-in care during coronavirus also offers a safer option. Choosing home care during Covid-19 means your loved one will be cared for by one person. This will significantly reduce the amount of outside contact and help keep them safe.

Our carers can help make sure your loved one is eating properly and staying active to improve their health and wellbeing. They can also provide companionship so your loved one won’t experience loneliness in lockdown.
Choosing homecare also means your loved one will be able to have visitors when lockdown restrictions allow this.

We are here to help at this challenging time. If you are considering live-in care during coronavirus, then speak to one of our team on freephone 0800 505 3511 or email info@mumbys.com.

References

Age UK report

Age UK information

Age UK coronavirus impact

Gov.uk unpaid care coronavirus-guidance