Feeling lonely is something we all experience from time to time and for many different reasons, but long-term loneliness can have a detrimental effect on a person’s mental and physical health – particularly in an older person who lives on their own. According to a recent study by Which.co.uk, 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 said they either always or often felt lonely, and research has shown that loneliness can lead to an increased risk of someone developing coronary heart disease, strokes and dementia, as well as links to causing anxiety and depression.

With this in mind, it’s important to be able to identify the signs that suggest an elderly relative might be lonely and find a solution. Loneliness can be tricky to spot as it is a subjective experience, however common symptoms are withdrawing from family and friends, low self-esteem, boredom and low mood. A person’s circumstances can also lead them to feel lonely - such as being recently widowed or having a long-term health issue. Moving into a care home environment offers a practical solution for older people who might be feeling lonely or isolated where they live. There are many benefits for making the move into care which help alleviate loneliness, as well as improve a person’s quality of life and general wellbeing. Some of these benefits are outlined below:

Community

Connecting with others - whether it’s with friends, family or forming new connections with people who have similar interests - is a great way to combat loneliness and banish isolation. Being part of a care home community offers multiple opportunities for people to maintain social interactions with a whole host of different people. Even if it’s just saying “good morning” to someone; these small interactions make all the difference and can help people feel more connected to where they live.

Keeping active

Staying active and keeping busy benefit both a person’s physical and mental health, as well as being a great way to connect with others. Many care homes encourage their residents to continue with their favoured hobbies and pastimes as well as taking up something new, so it’s a priority for the activity coordinators at each care home to ensure that there are plenty of engaging activities available and something for everyone. Flower arranging, live music, baking, a cinema room, board games and summer parties are just some of the activities available to residents at St. Michael’s Care in Margate.

Highly trained and caring staff

Whether it’s nursing, residential or respite care that’s required, care home staff are highly trained care professionals, so in addition to forming strong relationships with the residents in their care (and therefore always being happy to have a chat over a cuppa!), they will also be quick to spot any subtle changes in a resident’s behaviour that might suggest they are feeling lonely or ‘not quite right.’ Noticing these signs early means that necessary changes can be made to a resident’s care to maximise their happiness, safety and wellbeing. Outside space Getting outside in the fresh air is a great way to refresh a person’s mood and also strengthens our feeling of connection to nature and the wider world. Research has shown that this promotes physical and mental wellbeing in older people, so it’s an important factor in tackling loneliness. Care homes have safe outside spaces and attractive surroundings, with many having well-appointed gardens for residents to relax in. Whether it’s a stroll around the grounds or perhaps a leisurely walk down to Westgate on Sea, St. Michael’s Care offers lots of opportunities for residents to get outdoors and feel the wind on their face!

A positive approach

Taking a positive outlook on life - along with eating well, staying active and getting enough sleep – is another factor that can improve a person’s overall health and wellbeing, whilst also helping to keep loneliness at bay. Care homes recognise the importance of the power of positivity in relation to combatting loneliness and therefore they strive to create positive home-from-home environments for all of their residents, as well as ensuring that they eat well and get a good night’s sleep.

Don’t worry about your loved one being alone. Friendship, care and interaction are at the heart of what we do here at St. Michael’s Care. Please contact our team on 01843 834 917 to arrange a viewing.

Sources:

Campaign to End Loneliness: https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org

Psychology of Loneliness Report (Campaign to End Loneliness) https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/blog/the-psychology-of-loneliness-why-it-matters-and-what-we-can-do/
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Ian WebsterJanuary, 2019

“I cannot rate this care home any higher than excellent. Both my parents were residents and the care, dignity and personal care was outstanding. As a family we were very pleased we used St Michael's as it was incredibly comforting knowing that we had made the right decision to use St Michael's. The personal touch of the treatment both my parents received was amazing and the way the family was treated was incredible. The staff were outstanding and so thoughtful at all times. I cannot say thank you enough for everything they did. The building was so clean and immaculate, you did not feel you were in a care home, more like a hotel. Thank you again.”

Shirley WellerMay, 2018

“Every member of staff at St Michael's has been very caring. They have tended my mother for four months and given her the peace she required before she passed away. They made her last few months very calm. The nurses, Carers, chefs, housekeepers, office and reception staff, and entertainers, (I hope I haven’t missed anyone) all listened to my mum and respected her wishes. Everyone always wanted to say hello to my mum and she always wanted to know how they were. St Michael's is an appropriate saint for all the ‘angels’ who work there. My mum loved to get to the library or garden room where she could sit with my dad. The staff all supported my dad as well during this very stressful time for him. (They have been together for 75 years.). Staff constantly checked that she was OK.

St Michael's is very warm and friendly. The perfect place. Thank you to you all for giving my mum so much.”

Glyn PettitNovember, 2018

“Our mother was admitted to St Michael's in April 2018 for end of life care. During her stay our mother has received the highest quality care in beautiful surroundings, The decor of the room was of a high standard and also restful. Furniture was constantly being upgraded and all suitable equipment for my mother's support was available.

From the welcome by reception when checking in to signing out in mid-November they remained warm and friendly. Care staff, nursing staff, activity and domestics all gave 100% and made us feel part of their family. Nothing was too much trouble and our mother always looked beautiful, clean and rested when we arrived at any time unannounced.

Sadly our mother passed away in their care but it was only with the love and care given that made it a really special moment. Finally thanks to the management for giving our mother the care and dignity in her final months of life. Bless you all.”