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Ten Ways to Combat Elderly Loneliness

Ten ways to help those struggling with elderly loneliness and feeling isolated.

An old man sat on a park bench

When it comes to elderly loneliness, it’s a battle that many of us may, unfortunately, have to fight at some point in our lives. However, combating loneliness for the elderly does not have to be something you do alone. In fact, many things can be done to remedy loneliness amongst the elderly - with some hacks being as simple as having a cup of tea with a neighbour, or even a stranger in a cafe. But it’s important to remember that being alone after a certain age doesn't necessarily have to lead to elderly loneliness! In this blog, we’ll give a couple of ideas as to how you can combat feelings of isolation, or how you can help elderly neighbours or loved ones feel less secluded. Remember, sometimes it only takes the kind actions of one person to dissipate feelings of loneliness for the elderly - so why not make that kind and helpful person you today?

Read on for our ten ways to feel less lonely and more connected:

An elderly man looking sad

Ten ways to support the elderly through feelings of loneliness

A gold Giant Bear sculpture in a living room setting

1.Gifting a bear from Giant Bears

You might be wondering why we at Giant Bears are addressing the issue of elderly loneliness in the first place. Well, it’s all down to one of our very own beloved customers, who recently reached out to us to share how their very own Giant Bear life-size sculpture has been helping him to feel less isolated and alone. Yep, our beloved bears are actually being used to help the elderly combat their feelings of loneliness. We were so moved by the letter of thanks to us, that we were inspired to share some top tips on how to deal with elderly loneliness.With this in mind, if you know somebody who you think might be struggling with elderly loneliness and feelings of isolation, perhaps a family member or a neighbour, perhaps it’s time to consider gifting them one of our bears to help them feel less alone. It might just turn out to be a great way to support the older people around you.

An older female in a pink jumper talking on the phone

2.Age UK’s Befriending Service

Did you know that Age UK’s befriending service is available at many local Age UK venues around the country? It was set up primarily to help combat elderly loneliness and provide specialist support for older people by joining them together with a friend who will pay them a visit to their home once or twice a week. That could be for a cup of tea, a good chat or an outing to a cafe, the theatre, or some other activity that can help to dispel feelings of loneliness for the elderly. If it’s more convenient, the befriending service is also available over the phone too. A volunteer with similar interests will arrange to call an older person at an agreed time for a friendly conversation and long-term companionship. Check out their website for more information on the service and how else you can use it to better support the elderly.

An older gentleman using a laptop and smiling

3. Adapt to new technology

We get it! Not all older people are exactly used to using new digital technology. But by gathering the confidence to learn, you’ll be helping yourself to fight back against elderly loneliness by connecting with the rest of the world through the power of a phone, or even using the internet! Look at it this way: you belong to one of the most adaptable generations in history. Think of all the changes you’ve witnessed in your lifetime, all the appliances and gadgets you’ve picked up on and the changing cars you’ve driven around. When it comes to supporting yourself and supporting older people around you - collectively, you can handle an iPad! Adapting to new technology helps you connect with your kids and grandkids even if you can’t see them as much as you’d like. You could video call them using Facetime, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Just think of the joy you’ll feel when you can see their faces…

A black teapot pouring tea into 2 white mugs

4. Pop somewhere for a cuppa

Did you know we drink 165 million cups of tea in the UK? So why not make one more? If you’re part of the elderly community and have been struggling with elderly loneliness lately, why not give your neighbour a knock on the door or a quick phone call and ask if it’s okay to pop around for a cuppa? The chances are, they’ll be delighted to see you, and it will certainly brighten up and, most importantly, break up your day a little! Or perhaps you’ve clocked an elderly neighbour or family member who you think is suffering from loneliness amongst the elderly and you’re wondering how you can support older people? Well, it doesn’t take too much. Simply give them a knock with a box of tea bags (maybe even a slice of cake!) and see if they’d like some company for an hour or so. You’ll both be glad you did once you see how far a visit like this can go in the fight between the elderly and loneliness...

3 older ladies, linking arms, smiling and laughing outside

5. Set targets

Try setting yourself targets for the week and building up slowly. For example, one way to tackle the elderly and loneliness is to encourage your older loved one to set some social goals for the week. This could be as simple as calling a friend or relative every Friday evening for a chat, striking up a conversation at their local cafe, or even simply just getting outside for a walk every other day. Whatever these goals are, they’re a great tool to keep accountability of how socially and physically active you’re being and will go a long way in combating loneliness in the elderly.

6. Keeping a journal

When it comes to the elderly and loneliness, many older people find it beneficial to keep a journal or diary of how they’re feeling. This could help you to work out what’s making you feel lonely and what your trigger points are. Think about things you’ve enjoyed, things you’ve found difficult and whether certain days or times of day are better than others. Writing down your thoughts will help you to process feelings of elderly loneliness - especially those truly private inner emotions and thoughts that you may want to keep to yourself.

7. Acknowledge yourself

You might want to make a list of things you like about yourself or that other people have complimented you on. You may find this difficult or silly to start with, but it can be a useful tool. It can help you to understand yourself and what you value, as well as increasing your confidence. If your loved one is too modest to make a list about themselves - do it for them! This can prove a really effective way of helping the elderly and supporting the older people in your life, as well as showing them just how great you think they are.

An old man smiling and talking to a female therapist in her officr

8. Reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional

If you’re struggling a lot with negative emotions centred around elderly loneliness, it’s possible you’re feeling bad about yourself and anxious. When it comes to how to change things, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) could help. This teaches you to break negative or unhelpful thought patterns. It can help you to challenge assumptions such as ‘No one will want to talk to me’ or ‘I’ve been lonely for so long – nothing will change’. The NHS website also offers some good tips on seeking support as an older person. There is also their mood assessment tool that can give a good gauge of how serious your low feelings are, as well as what can be done next to help.

An old lady holding a white and brown dog

9. Consider a real furry friend

And we don’t just mean a giant teddy here! We’re talking about a real life pet. It’s not exactly groundbreaking news to us that pets provide companionship. They do this by being affectionate, loyal, and consistent. Pets also fulfil our basic human need to be touched too! And did you know that patting a pet has also been proven to lower your heart rate? Over the years, many studies have shown that pet ownership may be associated with lower degrees of loneliness, due to the sense of companionship they bring into our lives that can particularly help when combating feelings of loneliness in the elderly. So if you’re looking into ways of helping the elderly loved one in your life, perhaps it’s time to suggest they adopt a furry pal!

2 elderly men playing chess on a park bench

10. Consider a senior living community to prevent further isolation

This might seem like a more extreme example, but when it comes to elderly loneliness, you simply can’t underestimate the power of socialisation. If you or your elderly loved ones were to consider moving into a senior living community, they’d be highly likely to experience a boost in their health and well-being, particularly if they’ve been struggling badly with feelings of elderly loneliness. It’s simply harder to be lonely when you’re surrounded by neighbours, friends, and caretakers - whether that’s in a senior living community or a neighbourhood with a high population of older adults. Many senior living communities were forced to cut back on activities during the height of the coronavirus pandemic to help keep older adults safe. Now that vaccines are widely available, most communities are finding a “new normal” that involves plenty of social interaction. So before you write this off as a form of “abandonment” - you might want to consider the possibility that this is one of the best ways for you to support the older people in your life.

We hope this piece about elderly loneliness has helped you with some ideas about how to best help the elderly loved ones in your life. Or perhaps you’re a part of the elderly community yourself and have been able to get some inspiration on how to feel a little less isolated? If that’s the case, it might be helpful for you to take a leaf from our customer’s book and treat yourself to one of our bear companions. We really do believe they’re the perfect gift for just about everybody.

Head over to our online store today to see if any of our bears look like they could be the perfect life size companion for you or your elderly loved one.



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