Information about the elderly being more vulnerable for loneliness in winter, and tips and resources to help avoid social isolation.
The winter can be a tricky season for everyone, but especially for the elderly. Being stuck in the house can be a real issue for elderly people who live alone, causing a risk to their mental wellbeing, and to their physical wellbeing too. In some instances, it can have a drastic effect on their quality of life.
Not only is it harder for an older person to get out and about because of the cold, and because of the slip-risks, visitors may be less likely to visit them because of their own restrictions and busy schedules. Winter can even be problematic when it comes to the nutrition of an older person who may struggle to get out for the groceries they need, or who may struggle to cook for themselves following the death of a partner who they relied on.
One of the most distressing parts of how winter affects the elderly is social isolation. It is a real problem with older people living alone, and the statistics are incredibly difficult to take on board:
- Over 1 million older people feel lonely all the time, or often
- Nearly 50% of older people in the UK feel pets or TV is their main source of company
- People who are highly lonely are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s as somebody who doesn’t feel lonely
- 12% of those over 65 never spend time with their family
- Nearly half of all older people live alone
Social isolation can be very distressing and very challenging for any person, but especially the elderly who may also struggle with other challenges like mobility issues or illness.
Feeling alone can cause depression, can cause problems with sleep patterns, eating and problems with overall wellbeing.
Social isolation does not have to be the certainty though when you grow old. In fact there is a lot can be done to combat social isolation amongst the elderly, in winter and all year round.
Be As Healthy As Possible
It is so important that seniors are as healthy as they possibly can be. The healthier you are, the more likely you are to get out and about, to be as independent as possible, and to feel well in yourself. Visit your GP for a checkup and to discuss nutrition, speak to friends and family for help getting your medication and any incontinence supplies. Do also try to maintain an exercise regime to maintain strength and cardiovascular health.
If you are struggling with living alone you may need elderly care – live-in care is a great alternative to a care home. Although an elderly care home is a good option for some, a Live-in Care Hub report showed that 97% of us would prefer not to choose that kind of care if we became unable to care for ourselves. Live-in care is a good alternative as you get to stay in your home and with a trained carer who not only provides company, but help with personal care, nutrition and various other things depending on your needs. If you are struggling to live alone, care could be a good thing to look into. Alternatively, speak to your friends and family about your needs to see if you might want to move towards assisted living, or carers that come and visit you to help with certain tasks.
You can find more information on support and services, tips and information on being safe and healthy in winter at Age UK, and NHS Keep Warm, Keep Well.