How Care Homes Can Help Isolated Older People

Guest blog by Jason Tucker

Isolation and depression in the elderly has been a hot topic in the media in recent months. Following a slew of studies and reports the plight of older people has been thrown into a new light. Sadly, as a youth-obsessed nation the issues surrounding the elderly aren’t often given much in the way of attention by the press, but with a recent study showing that social isolation leads to a 26% higher chance of death over a seven year period, people are beginning to realise that something needs to be done.

The shrinking of our social circle seems to be directly correlated with our increasing age. As friends pass away and our ability to get out and about is limited it becomes harder to build and maintain relationships. Older people who have had children may find that they help in care of grandchildren, which helps keep them active and in regular contact with relatives. But with families living further apart than at any previous time in history, it’s not uncommon for grandparents to only see their grandchildren every few months or on school holidays.

If you have an elderly relative and are worried about them suffering from social isolation then it might be time to think about them moving into a care home. There are a few reasons care homes offer a good environment to combat social isolation and its negative effects:

1. Community. Often older people become isolated because local communities have become more fragmented. People move about a lot more than in days gone by, so it can be difficult to build relationships with neighbours. In a care home an older person will be surrounded by people of a similar age, many of whom will share common interests and shared experiences. All of this means

they will develop new friendships resulting in feelings of isolation being reduced.

2. Social Activities. Good care homes will provide a full programme of social activities. These will range from day trips and ballroom dancing to book clubs and bridge evenings. Often what keeps older people from socialising is worrying about venturing out to unfamiliar venues and meeting people they don’t know. In a care home the social activities will be with people they know, and in a safe caring environment, all of which will help them relax and socialise regularly.

3. Personalised Care. These days most care homes practise person-centred care. This means that the staff will get to know and understand each individual patient, what they like and hobbies and interests they may have had before moving into care. Some homes even assign a member of staff as a key worker to give even greater individualised care. This approach will help older people feel relaxed and valued which in turn will improve their well-being and increase the likelihood of them socialising.

For many old people who live alone the thought of moving to a care home can be difficult and frightening. Although they may be living a socially isolated life, a move to a new environment and the feeling of losing their independence can be unsettling. It’s important to broach the topic sensitively but in the end the transition could be the best thing to improve their quality of life. This article was provided by Hallmark, who run care homes in Essex, Cardiff and throughout the UK.