Loneliness in seniors is at an epidemic level in the US.
We live in an age where we can communicate with family across the country and around the globe with a few clicks of a mouse or taps on a smartphone screen. However, despite advances in communications technology and the increasing connectedness it brings, seniors are not always connected to their community and end up isolated and lonely.
Shrinking Social Circles Key
One of the biggest issues for seniors is that their social circles begin to shrink as we get older. Friends, significant others, and family members move or pass away. Even those who still live close by may be inaccessible due to limited mobility, triggered many times once a senior can no longer drive safely. Age-related changes in one’s physical condition, such as hearing loss and low vision, can make it so difficult to communicate that it doesn’t seem worth the effort anymore- the result loneliness and isolation. According to an AARP study, 19% of older adults in the United States suffer from loneliness; 8% of older adults often feel lonely, and 11% feel lonely at least some of the time.
In the UK, only 17% of older people are in contact with family, friends, and neighbors less than once a week, and 11% in
contact less than once a month.
Holidays are Miserable for The Lonely
The worst times are the holiday where Joy to the world sings to the tragic ears of elders who find themselves alone only surrounded by memories. How can we reach out to spread joy
Increase Quality Of Life Through a GCM Program
Lifespan, a 35-year-old care management program in Santa Cruz, California, has begun a quality of life program called “Well Being”. to address loneliness and isolation. Their service is designed to bring joy back to elderly clients, many of whom are isolated or living alone.
Based on the brilliant work of GCM Nina Herdon’s research and own quality of Life program, the Hummingbird Program, Lifespan serves lonely elders at any stage of their lives- from mentally clear to levels of dementia. Lifespan employs personal assistants trained in quality of life activities, to engage elders in intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual quality of life activities after the care manager does a quality of life assessment and creates a quality of life action plan outlining what activities would bring back joy and activities they love and can do again with the personal assistant help.
5. IDEAS FOR QUALITY OF LIFE ACTIVITIES OVER THE HOLIDAY TO HELP LONLEY SENIORS
- Holiday reminiscence: Capture family tales during holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah. Use empathetic listening if you can. Make all the messages you are giving the older person—tone, how fast you speak, how they are sitting—say that you want to listen to the client.
- Ask questions that prompt the story, but don’t make judgments. If they are going to record the memory, do it in a way that doesn’t distract or stop the client from talking. Record on Quick Voice Recorder on your phone. for their family Start somewhere in the story. If the elder isn’t going to tell stories on his or her own, start the story and see if they will follow along. “You wore a yarmulke to the synagogue on the Chanukah and you would go with your mom and Dad?”
“Did your Mom do Christmas Hannakka baking on the holiday?” ” What was your favorite holiday treat”
3. If in a facility the quality of life assistant can ask if the older person likes to celebrate the holiday. IF so ask the facility if you can bring some decorations or ritual holiday symbols like a small Christmas tree, holiday food or a menorah or accompany the older person to a holiday dinner for community members.
4. On the traditional holidays celebrated by a client who observes a religion, such as Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, make sure that the decorations of that holiday are in their home, assisted living room, etc. Ritual music is played, a ritual meal is prepared, and ritual prayers are said.
5. Smell different scents like pine of a Christmas tree smell of gingerbread or cocoa. Our sense of smell is embedded in our brain next to memory. So some activities that might work with elders with dementia are making holiday scent cards, bringing scent, bringing holiday scents and tastes of ritual foods having them help prepare food.