Staying in touch with elderly relatives
Updated: Jul 7
Elderly Relatives are among the most vulnerable within our society when it comes to loneliness – potentially compounding existing ill-health and cognitive functioning. This has been made even more acute due to the current social distancing measures in place.
According to statistics from Age UK, there are around 2 million people over the age of 75 who currently live alone, with half of these going over a month without speaking to a family member, friend or even a neighbour.
There are ways to overcome this though whilst still protecting them from the very real face-to-face risk of COVID-19, even if you are not fortunate enough to be the beneficiary of live-in care support.
At Country Cousins, we have compiled a guide, showing you some of the best ways that you can contact loved ones and combat loneliness during these challenging times.
Video calls are one of the best forms of communication. They have revolutionised the way we are able to communicate with each other and have become increasingly popular since the COVID-19 crisis began.
There are a number of applications you can use including Zoom, Skype and FaceTime. All you need to get started is a mobile phone, table or computer with a webcam and a stable internet connection.
The team at Country Cousins have personally been using Zoom to stay in touch with family, it’s easy to organise a catch up with the whole family and best of all, it’s free! You do need to be aware however that the meeting will end after 40-minutes for Basic (free) users if 3 or more people join the meeting. If you do run out of time though, simply reschedule another catch up for later on that same day.
If your loved one suffers from arthritis, then consider sending them a stylus pen in the post to help with mobile phone or tablet touch screens.
Even if you can only spare an hour of your time each week, it will mean the world to them. You can show them what you have been up to in the week, have a general catchup or give them an opportunity to speak to their grandchildren.
If you find that they are struggling with the video technology, then drop them a phone call and guide them through the process step-by-step.
Not all elderly people have access to video calling technology. However 95% of everyone in the UK has a mobile phone, and 76% still have access to a landline. Giving your relative a phone call will go a long way to making them feel connected with the world outside them.
If they have access to a mobile phone, whether it be a smart phone or not, you can also send a text every now and then to check in. Although this form of contact is not as personal as a video chats or phone calls, it’s still a valued form of contact. Use your phone call to help get them set up with apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and general text messaging so that you can start to share photos and videos.
If your friend or relative has a diary, give them some dates and times that they can expect a phone call from you, so they can ensure that their phone is switched on and they can get to it in good time.
If you yourself are feeling lonely and need someone to talk to, Age UK has a phone number you can call to receive a weekly or fortnightly call from a volunteer. Simply call 0800 055 6112 and they will assign you a volunteer. Or if you have the time, why not volunteer to be a telephone befriender yourself.
Post and Email
Nothing provides a personal touch quite like a beautiful hand-written letter. Letters offer real human connection as they can be used to convey a large range of emotions and experiences in a structured, easy to digest way. You can also include a photograph of what you’ve been up to during lockdown to really bring it to life.
The Royal Mail have been working tirelessly during the pandemic period to make sure our post keeps getting to its destination, so get writing!
If you’ve run out of stamps, don’t fret (it happens to the best of us!), because email can be just as an effective means of communication and with no weight or size limits, you can attach as many pictures or videos of the grandkids playing in the garden as you like.
If your friend or relative lives nearby and you can drive over to see them, why not have a catchup in the garden at a safe social distance. Summer is here and the weather is getting hotter which makes garden catchups far easier. Whilst your round, you could even help them with gardening if they suffer with mobility issues and are not able to take care of their garden themselves.
The BBC have released a Practical Social Distancing Guide if you’re worried about going to see your relatives and social distancing in their garden. This guide gives you all the information you need to keep you all safe.
How can Live-In Care help them?
Having a live-in carer provides a friend and someone who is there when needed. Whether this be for general day to day tasks such as cleaning and cooking, or someone to talk to, live-in carers help to prevent loneliness in the elderly by being there for them. If you want to find out more about live-in care, then read our Guide to Live-in Care. If you’re concerned about the costs of live-in care, you can also read our Cost of Care Guide where we show you the benefits of live-in care and explain how it can be made more affordable.
If you want to enquire about a live-in carer, give us a call on 01293 224 706 to speak to one of our team. Alternatively, use our online enquiry form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.