Time to Talk Day: a conversation about loneliness

The various lockdowns that have taken place over the last 12 months have had an impact on everybody, but it’s been particularly tough on the elderly residents in our communities. After being forced to shield for all these months, the older generation is even more susceptible to developing issues – one of the biggest being loneliness.

Dan Archer, Managing Director of in-home care provider Visiting Angels, hopes to initiate a conversation for Time to Talk Day (4th February) and promote the benefits of discussing mental health. With his carers supporting many older people in our community, he has advice on how to recognise the signs of loneliness, address the most common effects and how to support loved ones during solitary times. With the most recent research from Age UK revealing in 2019 that 1.9m* older people in the UK are chronically lonely, there is no better time to talk.

“Amid our third national lockdown, there are elderly members of society who haven’t stopped shielding since March,” said Dan. “From a healthcare professional’s perspective, this is alarming, but it should also be a shock to people regarding the severity of the situation. Long periods of alone time are detrimental to anyone’s health, but especially for older people, as it can escalate much quicker if they don’t have access to their usual support system. Even as the vaccine gets administered at a great speed, it’s still important to recognise the significance of preventing loneliness.”

How can I recognise loneliness in my loved one?

Loneliness can cause a lack of motivation, meaning loved ones seem disinterested, even in some of the most basic daily tasks. Over time, it has been shown to increase stress levels and affect sleeping patterns, alongside increasing the chances of feeling depressed or anxious.

All of the above are extremely harmful to the body, especially for someone who might be in a vulnerable position. That's why you must be aware of any change in mood or temperament. It’s also important to understand that long periods of isolation can often lead to other problems developing too, such as an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and dementia.

How can I help?

Make regular contact with elderly friends or family, by whatever means possible. Take around 10 minutes a day to ask how they are. By doing this, it will help figure out whether they require additional support, as you can spot the signs of a downturn in health or general demeanour. You know them better than anyone else, so you can instantly recognise if something is wrong or out of the ordinary.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Consult your GP or local care service about the option of an in-home care plan. If you’re not able to visit your loved ones yourself, regular visits from an experienced care professional have many great benefits, including offering comfort, helping to complete everyday tasks and providing that all-important human contact.

Top tips for overcoming loneliness:

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

- Ask questions about what your loved one is getting up to

- Do a Google search to find out the best activities to fill their time – doing a jigsaw puzzle or a colouring book will not only keep them busy, but keep their brain engaged and active

- Recognise signs before they escalate and seek professional help if you have any concerns.

Dan summarises, “It’s also vital that you look after yourself too. Try not to feel guilty for any feelings of loneliness your loved ones might be going through; just do your best to support them. Not just on Time to Talk Day, but every other day of the year, Visiting Angels are encouraging people to engage in a conversation and address issues that might be affecting your loved ones.”

Notes to Editors

For more information, or to speak with Dan directly, please contact Liam on 07395 641 523 or liam@revpr.co.uk

* Age UK, All the Lonely People: Loneliness in Later Life, September 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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