If you’re caring for your mum, you probably know that little worry in the back of your mind – the fear that she might feel lonely.
In my experience, it’s one of the most common concerns with children of ageing parents.
Have you noticed subtle changes in your mum’s behaviour? Or have you heard her say she would love some company?
Loneliness, as Age UK defines it, is that feeling when you can’t have the genuine relationships you want and need.
In this article, we’ll consider what could make your mum feel this way, talk about how it may affect her, and share four practical strategies that empower you to make positive changes in your mum’s life.
Reasons Behind Loneliness
Even before COVID-19, 1 in 12 people aged 50 and over in England often felt lonely.
As you get older, your social circle shrinks, and you may find yourself going to more funerals than happy gatherings.
And with the pandemic and lockdowns keeping friends, neighbours, and families apart, that creeping sense of isolation has only grown.
Why does loneliness strike our loved ones so hard?
Grief: The loss of a loved one can be an incredibly isolating experience. The pain and lasting effects that come with it significantly contribute to loneliness.
Health or Mobility Issues: Physical health challenges or limited mobility can stop our ageing parents from visiting family, taking part in community activities, and staying connected with others.
Low Fixed Income: Tight finances can make it tough for older people to afford transport, social outings, or even a simple meal with friends.
Impact of Loneliness
Here’s the thing.
Loneliness isn’t just a feeling. It can have real, tangible effects on our loved ones.
First, there’s a physical impact: they’re more at risk of a stroke, heart attack, and dementia.
There is an emotional impact, too. People often report feeling depressed. Some have become anxious about going out since the pandemic; the world is noisy and threatening, and things are going so fast.
Strategies to Overcome Loneliness
So, if you’re worried about your mum, what can you do?
As a carer, you may feel compelled to bridge the gap and provide constant companionship, even if it means stretching yourself thin to meet all your obligations.
It’s a natural thing to do – but there is another approach.
Below, I’m sharing four practical strategies so you can help your mum overcome loneliness and make meaningful connections.
1. Start a Heartfelt Conversation
The first thing to do is to have an open and honest chat with your mum. Let her know you’re here for her and want to help. Sometimes, just talking about it can make all the difference.
2. Explore Existing Resources
Think about the connections your mum already has, like her church or club memberships. Strengthening these existing ties can be easier than trying to build new ones.
3. Discover Social Prescribing
Get in touch with your GP, who can help with social prescribing. It’s a referral to non-medical activities or community-based support to improve patients’ well-being.
A dedicated professional will visit your mum at home, find out her interests, and suggest activities she might enjoy.
This approach is reassuring and offers the chance to learn something new or rekindle old hobbies.
4. Enlist a Care Agency
Another option is to contact a reputable care agency, such as Right at Home, which offers personalised support. These services come directly to your mum. A trained carer will knock on her door, sit and chat, and provide companionship on her terms.
Did you know?
The cost could be offset by the attendance allowance, a benefit available to those who have reached state pension age and have a disability or an ongoing medical condition.
Remember, you’re never too old to try new things, learn, and embark on new adventures. These strategies give you and your mum the tools to take proactive steps so she can enjoy the social connections and support she needs to feel happy and settled in her golden years.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please get in touch. I’m Sally, an Independent Social Worker, and I would love to help!
Source: Age UK: Loneliness and Covid-19 report, December 2019