Are you concerned about a loved one who is feeling isolated and alone? Recent studies confirm that social isolation can put people at risk for dementia and other serious medical conditions.
The effects of social isolation and the risks of loneliness are astonishing. Recent studies show that loneliness increases a person’s risk of premature death by 26% and has been compared to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Here are seven tips to help reduce social isolation and tackle loneliness.
We are social animals and staying in touch is a great way to bridge the gap. If you and your family are nearby, schedule visits to share what’s going on in your life. Instead of relying only on words, bring photos and videos. A picture still is worth a thousand words.
If you are not living nearby, share photos in emails and snail-mail. Sending regular visual updates is a great way to stay in touch and reduce loneliness.
Tip: A physical photo may seem old-fashioned. However, your relative can pick it up, hold it, and show it to their friends. It may be the simplest way to build a bridge of connection.
Build a photo wall
In addition to sending single photos, look for ways to enhance your loved one’s surroundings. You may want to experiment with building a photo wall, filled with experiences through the different seasons.
Tip: Create a simple photo wall with materials you have on hand.
Who doesn’t love a trip to the beach? If you’re like most Americans, a taste of Hawaii will put you in an upbeat mood in minutes. Brainstorm with your family ways to bring a tropical feeling into your loved one’s room.
Here are a couple of ideas to get them thinking wheels turning:
- Share photos from a Hawaiian vacation
- Make cocktails or mock-tails to simulate tropical drinks
- Get flower garlands to wear
- Turn on the Hawaiian music
- Wear colourful tropical prints
Tip: Focus on foods, drinks, and textures that delight the senses.
While we are skilled at email, writing letters is a great low-tech way to stay in touch. If you or your children are avid letter writers, this builds a bond that goes across generations.
Children will learn penmanship, self-reflection, and self-expression. You’ll have a chance to think more deeply about what you’re writing—and maybe even pick up a fountain pen. The receiver will have a physical letter to hold and cherish.
Encourage your loved one to write letters to keep the lines of communication open.
Tip: Letter writing fosters self-expression, connecting the writer and the receiver.
Plan for getting together
Set up a time to visit with your family and friends. Organise times to share lunch, do an activity, or enjoy a creative project. Having a set schedule is a great way to make sure that you’re spending time with the people you love.
If you have friends and family nearby, you may enjoy having formal and informal get-togethers. An informal pop-in visit can bring light to a dull afternoon and boost a sense of belonging.
Tip: Spread the word that informal visits are welcome, and see what happens.
Enjoy crafts together
Many people enjoy doing crafts as a way to create beautiful items that can be worn or used daily. Experiment with sharing crafts such as knitting, crocheting, or embroidery. You may find that young children enjoy learning new skills, and older adults enjoy passing on their knowledge.
Tip: Build a sense of belonging by sharing skills and doing creative craft projects.
Get professional help
Caring for a loved one can be rewarding, yet also stressful. It doesn’t take long to realize that caring for a mom, dad, or a loved one can be more than you are personally able to handle.
If you are searching for support, it’s easy to explore qualified experts nearby. Just do a quick internet search for private nursing care at home. You’ll find caring professional staff who can assist you in providing the best compassionate care for your loved one.
Tip: Investigate options for professional nursing help for your loved one.
Wrapping it up
Experiment with fresh ways to enhance social connection. As you use your creativity, you’ll find new ways to stay in touch.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.
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