Blog: How can we all help to tackle loneliness in our community?
We are sure that everyone was delighted to see that back of 2020, however the start of the new year has delivered another challenge that could potentially be more difficult for many people within our communities.
The announcement of an imperative third lockdown will undoubtably cause us all a great deal of strain, but it is now, more than ever that we need to help those who may be vulnerable and lonely during these difficult times.
We have come up with a few ideas that we can all do to help our vulnerable loved ones or neighbours, whilst respecting social distancing protocols of course.
Ways to connect with technology
Modern technology can be an unfamiliar and frightening new territory for many seniors, but the benefits of being able to access a computer tablet, laptop or smart phone can make a significant difference to those in isolation. Admittedly, this may take some time, patience, and a bit of courage from us to help educate those who may be a little inexperienced. There is not a better time to learn!
Being able to set up a social media account, a video call application such as ‘Facetime’ or ‘Zoom’ will make it far easier to get in touch with family and friends. It may not be the same as meeting at our ‘Extra Time’ club but at least the opportunity is there to meet, chat and support those who are in a similar situation.
Stimulating Mental Activities
Being alone can make it tough to stay mentally engaged, but mental engagement is more important than ever if you are without a partner or another person to be with. So how can we utilise different materials to keep mentally active?
Use your newfound love for modern technology to “travel” – If you are enjoying the new possibilities of your new laptop/computer tablet or phone, then the internet has an endless number of activities to take you all over the World. Perhaps being able to visit one of the of the most famous museums in the world from your very own living room may be of interest. Click on one of the museums below to try out their virtual tour;
Games - Word and card games can keep your mind active. Consider delivering jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, and Sudoku. Don’t forget about suggesting online games like solitaire, Words with Friends, and hundreds of others.
Reading - Reading can be an under-appreciated activity. It can stimulate the imagination and take you to places you have never been to before. It could be worth delivering some of your favourite books or suggesting something that you think may be of interest to them.
Writing – Perhaps your loved one or neighbour had a pen-pal when they were younger? Why not try to rekindle the old ways of communication and keep in touch with friends who have also been in isolation. Of course, it is likely that they may need help with the postage, but it will be worth it when they receive a response through their letterbox.
Entertainment – As we all know, the amount of accessible entertainment to suit our needs are endless these days. Perhaps it is worth setting up an account for a platform like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Spotify to open a world of new content for those who may be struggling. If they are unable to set-up an account, then it could be worth delivering some DVD’s that may be of interest to them. The key is to keep them mentally stimulated for as long as possible throughout the day.
In summary, there are three areas than we can all help to create a positive environment for our vulnerable loved ones and neighbours in our community.
Help with technology
We can teach seniors how to use a smartphone, laptop, or computer tablet in the privacy of their home (If at all possible). It can take time to become comfortable and familiar with technology if you have never used it before. We can show seniors how to use social media apps to maximize their potential to bring people together.
We can fill that vital gap of socialization. Whether it is talking about family, life history, current events, or feelings. Conversation helps people feel connected and appreciated. It stimulates the brain in positive and meaningful ways.
Having someone to play games with opens a whole new world of possibilities. These could be card games, board games, sharing a puzzle, or learning online activities that are mentally stimulating.
At Bristol Rovers Community Trust, we will be spending our time to make sure that isolating and vulnerable supporters within our community are not feeling neglected during the challenging weeks ahead by making socially distanced visit, phone-calls, and letters. We urge you all to keep an eye on your loved-ones and neighbours of the coming weeks and check-in when you can. You will not realise how impactful a small gesture can be.