Elderly parent loneliness – is your mother or father at risk?
Elderly parent loneliness is a growing problem for many families. Research has consistently suggested that loneliness can reduce an older person’s sense of well-being. It can also damage their mental health and it may even be detrimental to their physical health. Research also suggests that, as people move through their seventies, they start to place greater emphasis on receiving regular visits from members of their close family.
Lack of social contact at any age can lead to a decline in physical health and can also cause depression. Contact with family becomes especially important when an individual lives alone, or is in advanced years and possibly in poor health.
There is strong evidence, for example, to suggest that older people living alone are significantly less likely to have visited a doctor as a result of a fall. Lack of social interaction can also mean that those living alone are less likely to have other people noticing a deterioration in their condition. Limited contact with close family also leads to a loss of intimacy, which further exacerbates loneliness, isolation and depression.
Do you live too far from your parents to visit them regularly?
How far away grown-up children live inevitably dictates how often they can visit their parents. If you live within ten miles of your elderly parents, the chances are you will see them every day, or at least several times a week. Apart from just dropping in on them for a chat, you may help them with their shopping, or mow their lawn for them, or take them to doctor’s and dentist’s appointments.
Not surprisingly, the frequency of face-to-face contact starts to drop off noticeably where children live more than 10 miles away from their parents. The further away children live from their parents. the more regular contact continues to decline and it starts to fall away sharply at a distance of around 40 miles.
You may find it difficult if you live more than 40 miles away
Research conducted in 2012 by the WRVS (now the RVS) suggests that where children live more than 40 miles away, from an elderly parent, hardly any of them is able to visit every day and only around one in ten even manages to visit their loved one once a week.
Where their parent lives more than an hour’s drive away, less than half of those surveyed (48%) get over to see them more often than once every few months. Sadly, 15% of the older people surveyed by the WRVS reported that they only receive visits from one of their children once a year – and in some cases not even once a year!
How best to help an elderly parent if you live too far away?
If you are concerned about the welfare and morale of an elderly parent, but are not able to visit them very often, what should you do? You can of course ask their friends and neighbours to rally round, but in many cases they will probably be helping out already and may not be in a position to do any more. You may also find that your loved one is extremely reluctant to admit either that they are lonely, or that they are struggling to cope.
Combatting elderly parent loneliness with the help of daily visiting care
A visiting care provider will be able to provide just the level of support and companionship that your loved one needs at those times when you cannot get there yourself. Whether they need someone to take them to a doctor’s or dentist’s appointment, sit with them a couple of afternoons a week, or take them shopping once in a while, a good local care provider will be able to provide whatever support is required. They will also do their upmost to provide a kind and sympathetic member of staff that your loved one will like and get on well with.
Live-in care – the ideal way of addressing elderly parent loneliness
If you find your loved one needs full-time care, it should still be possible for them to continue living in their own home, as long as it is safe for them to do so. This increasingly popular alternative to residential care is known a “live-in care”, or “care at home” and involves your loved one being supported at home by their very own full-time carer.
Live-in care is very different from hourly visiting care and it is extremely important that you choose a reliable provider, preferably one which is regulated by – and has received a good inspection report from – the Care Quality Commission.
If you are looking for live-in care anywhere in Essex, then why not talk to Audley Homecare? Based near Saffron Walden in north-west Essex, we offer live-in care throughout Essex and also in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
Our brochure highlights all our services, our process and our prices.