Recent media attention has put a spotlight on how isolated many UK elderly people actually are.
The blame has largely been placed upon the busy pace of modern life. As we struggle to make ends meet, and juggle work and family life, it can be easy to forget about the elderly people in our lives.
However, the question is; are we really failing to provide support for this forgotten generation?
Not just face to face support that’s lacking
When you think about loneliness, you often associate it mainly with a lack of face to face contact. However, even just contact over the telephone can play a big part in keeping elderly relatives happy.
A recent study by Senior Response, a call centre for the elderly, has found that only 50% of those aged 40-60 receive a telephone call once a week. Only 14% of people contact their elderly relatives every single day.
Unfortunately there are a significant number of older people that have absolutely no contact with anybody on a daily basis. It’s this that contributes towards chronic loneliness.
It is understandable that many relatives may not be able to visit elderly relatives on a frequent basis. Many live away from their parents or grandparents so actually getting to see them could be a struggle. However, in this mobile age it’s easier than ever before to keep in contact with people no matter where you are in the world.
While the elderly aren’t known for their grasp on modern technology, most still have a landline. Even if you can’t get your older relative to sign up to things like Skype, you could still make that call just to check how they are.
Could a change in the law help?
In China, a new law was introduced where children have to provide emotional as well as physical support for their aging parents.
If they don’t, they could face a potentially large fine and in some cases they could even face time in jail. The Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly is there to protect the older generation.
However, China is known for its strict rule, so enforcing this kind of law in the UK would be pretty challenging.
More support needed
Of course, the care required by the elderly often overshadows the stress it can put on their family’s lives. Looking after relatives can be really stressful, especially if they have mobility issues as well as declining mental health.
There often isn’t enough support given to help adults care for their elderly parents. A recent report from Carers UK found that there are 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK. While many are willing to do anything to take care of loved ones, this can put huge pressure on their own finances and quality of life.
Without adequate support, it’s understandable why many people consider putting their elderly relatives into a home. However, in some cases mobility aids, such as a wheel chair lift, can prevent adult children having to resort to this option for their parents.
By helping to make pensioners more independent in their home, they will be able to get around the house, do things for themselves and be less reliant on family members to take care of them.
Many older people are worried about going into a care home. They don’t want to be a burden to their children, but they fear what life will be like away from everything they are familiar with. It can be a really distressing time.
Many elderly people in the UK are being slowly forgotten by their relatives. If you have an older relative, why not get in touch? A simple phone call may be all that it takes.