Comfort Calls for Seniors, Elderly, Home-bound or the Lonely:
An uplifting conversation can make your day. Think of how much a cheerful voice lifts your spirit. Comfort Calls from Counseling Conversations can do just that. Vicki will be delighted to give you an encouraging, supportive and friendly chat whenever you schedule a call. It is a simple way to add to your support system. Talking with a caring person has proven to relieve loneliness, reduce stress and take away the blues. It also makes a great Gift Idea for someone you care about. Break the silence…..Try it Today!
Comfort Calls for Seniors
In this age with just a click the computer mouse or a tap on your cell phone, we can communicate with family or a friend, just about anywhere. But new research suggests that we as a society are lonelier than we have ever been in the past.
The group that feels the strongest sting of loneliness is often seniors and the elderly.
Secluded Elderly/ Seniors:
Here are some of the more recent findings regarding loneliness and aging Americans:
- 43 percent of the elderly and seniors report feeling lonely on a regular basis and 18 percent of seniors live all alone. These seniors often have no access to regular transportation which can add the feelings of isolation and seclusion. The percentages quoted come from a study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
- Secluded and lonely seniors often decline and die faster. There is a 45 percent increase with people 60 years and older in their risk for death found in the aforementioned UCSF study. 59 percent of solitary seniors had a greater risk of physical and mental decline then those in the same age range that enjoy being more social.
- 1 in 7 people with Alzheimer’s disease live alone, this statistic was recently released by the Alzheimer’s Association.
- Believe it or not, loneliness is contagious. When you feel lonely, you put out signals that drive others away thus adding to the desolate feelings. My mother would not even learn the names of her fellow neighbors nor would she call anyone. Psychologists from the University of Chicago who analyzed data from the Farmingham Heart Study, a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular study, Findings were that solitary seniors have a tendency to further isolate themselves by pushing people away and not making efforts to engage with others. They would not choose to attend special events, call or be friendly. This data was discovered by psychologists from the University of Chicago.
Surprising data about older Adults:
- The research revealed a huge surprise. Married or seniors with partners still stated they often felt lonely. People often get into ruts or routines where they don’t engage even with the people living with them. This came out in an UCSF study. These findings lend credence to the belief that relationships need to be meaningful not just plentiful.
Why do older adults claim to be so lonely?
T. Byram Karasu, M.D., chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, frankly stated “They are lonely because they are alone.” He added that being put in nursing homes or assisted living communities can be a very disorienting experiences. It is like having the rug pulled out from under you….elders find they can’t get their bearings and no longer feel sociable.
Bobbie Smith, a professional caregiver for Home Instead Senior Care, who has more than six decades worth of experience taking care of the elderly under her belt, echoed this sentiment in the article on Elder Loneliness Epidemic She says that “the modern trend of the breakdown of family relationships—like those between grandparent and grandchild—has caused many elderly people to feel as though they have been “pushed to the side,” and forgotten about,” a quote from Ms. Smith
Senior’s main link to the outside world is often the Caregiver:
Smith, winner of Home Instead’s 2012 Caregiver of the Year Award, is optimistic that this situation can be rectified. “It’s so easy to combat loneliness in the elderly. But caregivers have to be willing to get up and make it happen,” stated Bobbie Smith from the aforementioned article.
Ways Loved ones and Caregivers can help alleviate loneliness:
(Here is a list found in the article, “The Elder Loneliness Epidemic)
- Listen and observe: “We often don’t listen enough to the people we love,” laments Tina Tessina, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of “The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty.” According to Tessina, “saying ‘tell me more’ is a gift you can give from your heart.” Encouraging a senior to express themselves can help you discover what interests and passions lay dormant, just waiting to be rekindled in your loved one. “You’ve got to really dig deep and find out what their interests were before and get them to try and awaken those forgotten activities,” Smith says.
- Develop a strategy to defeat seclusion: Once you know what your loved one loves to do, you can use this information to develop a personalized loneliness eradication plan for them. Smith cites several simple examples from her own experiences as a caregiver: While caring for an elderly couple who refused to leave their house, Smith found out that they loved to cook and garden. So, she asked what the couple’s favorite meals were, cooked them and invited a few people they trusted over to the house for a dinner party. Also, because neither spouse could go outside to garden, Smith brought the flora inside and helped them rediscover the extensive collection of gardening manuals that they had forgotten about. While caring for an angry 91-year-old man who was reluctant to communicate, Smith discovered that he had a passion for singing and photography. Walking down the hall with him one day, she began to belt out a few bars of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” The man responded by singing right along with her and grudgingly admitting, “You’re OK.” Today, he sings for the community and is part of a club of retired photographers that Smith helped him contact.
- Let them teach you: Smith encourages caregivers to connect with their loved ones by allowing them to pass a portion of their vast store of hard-earned knowledge on to you. “I learn something new every day because I am being taught by the best,” she says. The key is to let the senior’s passions guide the lesson plan. For example, if you’re caring for your mother who loves to embroider, ask her to teach you how to do it. This not only has the potential to be a great bonding experience, it also can help add a bit of balance to the child-parent dynamic that may have been upended when you started caring for her.
- Bridge the generation gap: According to Smith, caregivers can play a vital role in fostering a relationship between a senior and their youngest relatives. Too often, she says that grandkids see their grandparents as either crazy or boring, when they should be viewing their elders as sources of wisdom. Try to come up with ways to help the oldest and the youngest generations of your family to spend time together. “That’s an absence in so many elderly homes. They need to share stories. There’s a wealth of knowledge that can be passed on to the younger generation,” Smith says. Karasu also points out that seniors have the potential to contribute a lot to their families—if they are allowed to remain engaged. He says this is doubly important in light of the fact that research has shown that an unengaged elderly adult will experience cognitive decline at a much faster rate than a senior who is mentally stimulated by interactions with other people.
- It’s the thought that counts: Another piece of advice from the pros: urge other family members to reach out to an elderly loved one. It doesn’t have to be a grand, time-consuming gesture. Something as simple as sending a card, dropping off a little present of their favorite food, or calling for 30 minutes a couple of times a week can go a long way to making a senior feel loved and connected to the rest of the family.
A Great Gift Idea:
A regular comfort call by a loved one or caregiver can give family members a break while engaging the elder in a social activity. Think of how much an Upbeat, Caring and Supportive call can brighten someone’s day. A befriending call can add to a senior’s support system. It engages their mind, brings a smile to their face and uplifts their mood. A happy person is less likely to feel isolated or deserted.
Setting up a regular Comfort Call is Easy as 1, 2, 3. Go to www.counselingguidance.com and agree to terms. Then book an appointment for a paid phone call and your loved one will receive a call at the convenient time.
Comfort Calls is a pleasant way to elevate the epidemic of Elder Loneliness. Reach out to those you know who are older and help make these later years a memorable and happy part of their lives.