1. Show them you are available
Keep in touch by phone, email or in person so they know someone is there for them when they need support
Most older people do not want to be a burden on their family, friends and neighbours. Very often they may put on a brave face. Ring them often, a few times each week. In some cases where a person is vulnerable and living alone with no support, it would be very beneficial if you rang them around meal times, or when they are due to take their medication. Gently inquire what they have eaten, are they drinking enough water, have they taken their medication.
2. Offer to take them out
If someone is living alone and cannot access public transport due to mobility constraints, they are very vulnerable. Offer to take them out at least once a week to do their shopping, collect their pension, go for a walk etc… It will give them some structure and routine and will break up a very long week for them
3. Ask how they’re feeling
This may seem obvious but it is a crucial question. Afford them the time to answer. If they are not forthcoming, perhaps ask some probing questions to encourage them to open up to you, eg: Have you seen anyone today or this week? It must be a very long day for you? How are you spending the day?
4. Enlist expert help
There are countless charities, local groups and voluntary organisations whose sole purpose is to support older people in Ireland today. If you notice an older person may need more support, contact their PHN (Public Health Nurse) who can advise on local organisations, Day Centres, groups etc…
5. Be dependable
If you say you will ring or visit on a certain day or time, do your best to stick to that. The only thing that is worse than being lonely or living alone is someone making arrangements and cancelling them at the last minute. This will only add to their loneliness.
6. Help them discover new ways to stay in touch
Technology for our ageing population is one of the fastest growing industries. Buy them an age friendly device so they can keep in touch with the outside world, but ensure they know how to use it properly.
7. Help them to try something new
Many older people feel nervous or uneasy about trying new things. This is very normal. One way to ease their nerves or fears is to accompany them for the first few times and stay with them. Once they feel at ease they may continue to go without you.
8. Help them plan for the future
This is one of the most important tips. Most older people are already thinking about their futures and what that may hold for them. It is important that you open up the conversation with them. Not only may you be able to allay some of their fears or concerns, but you will also find out what their wishes are and reassure them that their wishes will be honoured If you would like to find out more about THE HomeShare, you can ring us on 086 4126381 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org