Valentine’s Day is here, and what better way to show your love than by helping the ones closest to you? Loneliness can strike anyone at any time but for the elderly this can be particularly difficult to overcome. Whether it be a family member, friend or neighbour, everyone should feel loved - so here are a few simple ways that you can spread the love this Valentine’s Day. If you try any of these we’d love to hear from you, let us know the outcome by tweeting @AbilitySStore!
Never underestimate the power of conversation — just a few friendly words from even a complete stranger can brighten up someone’s day and help them to feel included. The next time you see someone looking lost or lonely, have a chat, strike up some small talk and just watch their day (and yours) improve dramatically. For some this could be life-changing; this is where our sponsored charity The Silver Line can help. Their free, confidential helpline offers advice and friendship for the elderly and their volunteers can provide reassurance and support.
As well as conversation, helping with practical tasks can really put a smile on someone’s face. If you see someone struggling to carry their shopping bags, offer a helping hand and lift the physical and emotional weight from them! Something as simple as offering to accompany them to pick up a prescription or walk a dog could really alter a person’s day — the tasks that might’ve seemed a struggle could be eased by a friendly action and companionship.
Again, The Silver Line is always looking for volunteers to offer friendship calls to the elderly; just one phone call could provide comfort and brighten someone’s day. Other organisations such as Age UK provide opportunities for volunteers to visit people who live alone or help them become more physically active, as a welcome distraction. With Age UK, you could even help out in a day centre and spend your day putting smiles on people’s faces.
Often, isolated and elderly people can struggle cooking for themselves — what may seem like a simple task for many of us can be a challenge for others. If a family member, friend, neighbour or anyone else you know is finding it difficult to provide meals for themselves, why not cook up an extra plate or a frozen meal that can be easily heated up? As well as being practical, you can provide comfort in the form of food, spend time with a lonely person and lift the responsibility from their shoulders. Check out The Casserole Club; they recruit volunteers who are willing to cook an extra plate for someone in need and spend time with anyone who’s lonely.
Older people can have their doubts about technology but it can make a difference. For those away from their families, Skype and FaceTime provide a visual comfort, whilst sites like Facebook allow users to reconnect with old friends. Most libraries and your local Age UK can provide courses and training for people so they can learn basic computer skills; whilst learning new skills, they can also make new friends. For those with limited mobility, tablets are a great product as they are light and handheld with a large screen and less of those confusing buttons. The majority of tablets even have voice-recognition and are compatible with a stylus, so anyone can use them.
Having things to look forward to can really make the days fly by! If you know someone who is lonely, fill their diary with fun and easy activities to give them something to look forward to, even if it’s something as simple as going for a walk or going food shopping. Charities such as the Royal Voluntary Service include a list of activities on their website that can be enjoyed by anyone.