Mental Health Day - tackling loneliness for your loved ones

Lockdown has had an impact on everybody this year, but it’s been particularly tough on the elderly residents in our communities. Whilst they’ve been shielding to protect their physical health, the implications of spending longer periods indoors, without seeing familiar faces, will have undoubtedly affected their mental health too. The feeling of isolation often leads to many more complex health issues but it’s not always easy to spot the signs.

Dan Archer, Managing Director of in-home care provider, Visiting Angels, knows all too well the impact that isolation has on older people. Latest figures1 show that by 2025, the number of over 50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million.

“As we teeter on the edge of returning to a national lockdown, this uncertainty is causing increased anxiety for many older people,” said Dan. “The research is a serious concern from a healthcare perspective, but perhaps the most alarming thing is that this survey was conducted prior to the knowledge of the pandemic. We’re determined to prevent any further loneliness and anxiety as restrictions tighten over the winter period.”

Here, Dan gives advice on how to recognise the signs of loneliness and how to support loved ones during solitary times.

Loneliness doesn’t always look the same

During this challenging time, you were probably kept away from your loved ones for an extended period of time. Even if they’re being visited by a carer each day, it’s not the same as seeing a face of a family member to keep their spirits high. A great way to ascertain whether or not a loved one feels lonely is by tackling the issue head on.

Make regular phone calls, around 10 minutes a day, asking them how they are. By keeping in regular contact, it will help you to figure out whether they require extra support and spot the signs of a downturn in health or general demeanour.

Is loneliness something you can treat?

It’s important to understand that isolation often leads to other problems too. Loneliness can cause a lack of motivation, so loved ones may lose interest in some of the most basic daily tasks. If it’s left unacknowledged, a gradual lack of enthusiasm can lead to serious issues with mental health, as this ‘hopeless’ behaviour can promote a cycle of increasing isolation and loneliness.

Speak with your GP or local care service about the option for an in-home care plan. If you’re not able to visit your loved ones personally, regular visits from an experienced care professional could give them comfort, alongside tackling two other problems: providing all-important human contact from someone who has your loved one’s best interests at heart and having someone who can support with everyday tasks around the home.

Top tips for overcoming loneliness:

- Call regularly and visit when you can, if it’s safe to do so – of course, you can always communicate virtually

- Ask questions about your loved one’s daily activity

- Suggest social activities for them to get involved with - get Googling to find out what’s available in their area

- Recognise signs before they escalate and reach out for professional help if you have any concerns

- Support in making lifestyle changes to help improve your loved one’s quality of life.

Dan summarises: “It’s also crucial to look after yourself too. Try not to feel guilty for any feelings of loneliness your loved ones might be experiencing, just do your best to support them. At Visiting Angels Dan we’re always asked how we can support vulnerable members of the community. People often think our services are only used when someone has a physical need, but they actually consist of much more than that – our companionship service is just as popular.

“We’re passionate about instilling a sense of independence in our clients, so we nurture the relationship between the carer and client to a stage where they feel a sense of companionship, positively impacting mental health. Caring for those who are isolating or shielding is about encouragement, interacting with people who care and ensuring they feel supported throughout this difficult time.”

To find out about the services that Visiting Angels Dan can provide to your loved ones during this time, please visit to find more information about a local office.


Editor’s notes:

For more information, or to speak with Dan directly, please contact Liam on 07395 641 523 or


* Age UK: All the Lonely People 2018.

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About Visiting Angels

In 2017, the Visiting Angels brand came to the UK under the expert leadership of Dan Archer. A franchise veteran and passionate ambassador for quality care at home, Dan launched the first UK office in October 2017. In less than 12 months, Visiting Angels Sheffield proved to be one of our most successful new franchises. Ever. Dan and his team were awarded ‘Best International Office’ at our 2018 Annual Conference in recognition of their exceptional performance and commitment to the Visiting Angels UK mission. Most care businesses, and in turn, most care franchises, will tell you that they put their clients first. And whilst we don’t disagree with the sentiment, we take a slightly different view on how to achieve it. We believe that to truly be successful in this pursuit, and to change the future of social care in the UK, we must actually put our carers at the heart of the business. For without them, there is no business. We describe this approach as "carer-centric".

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