The summer holidays can be a stressful time for our elderly, who don’t want to feel like a burden on family, or who may experience feelings of being overwhelmed or exhausted. It is also the loneliest time of year for some who may be missing a loved one.

Many people look forward to the summer season, as we rush around in the build up to the holidays, over-indulge on our favourite foods on Christmas Day then rush off again either back to work or head away for a summer holiday if we’re lucky enough to get one.

Unfortunately, for many in our elderly community, the summer season is not like that at all, and loneliness is very real. Older people may be left with memories of their loved ones who have passed before them, and it’s very common to experience feelings of isolation or some can be left feeling like they are in the way or a burden to family.

It is a difficult subject to approach when our elderly are surrounded with the love and care of family and friends. Contact time and the quality of that time is what counts, contributing to the ongoing self-worth and respect, health and well-being of the elderly.

Talking about loneliness within your family is important, and finding ways to make contact time with your loved ones and friends will help combat feelings of loneliness. Sometimes scheduled visits can be a good option, and try to check in with each other regularly to ensure everyone is okay. One phone call can make a difference to their day.

Church can be the right place to encourage social interaction, and picking up loved ones for an outing every now and again can also help. Social events such as birthdays or attending grandchildren’s events, taking a drive, fishing down at the wharf, or attending Pacific events can be good options. For those less mobile, encouraging friends to visit is a good idea.

Equally, sometimes our elderly can become exhausted or feel overwhelmed if they aren’t able to keep up with the younger family members.

Always be mindful of the length of outings and visits, which should be a maximum of two hours during the day as elderly will get tired. Understand their limits and  remember that interacting with younger children may wear them out faster than normal, so allow them to go at their own pace. Checking the weather is a good idea, as they may need additional support depending on the outing.

If you want to speak to someone about loneliness, you can:

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