As we age, all of us need to exercise our minds as much as our bodies to keep them in the best possible condition. While many people maintaining physically fitness through a healthy diet and exercise routine, mental health can often be overlooked as it is essentially invisible. Rather than being less of a priority however studies have shown that loneliness is “associated with poor mental and physical health” and “to be a risk factor of serious illness.” Even before the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, loneliness has been an especially big problem for elderly individuals. Live-in carers can have a huge impact not only as companions but also by using a range of techniques to help encourage mental acuity for those in their care.

Creativity

Creative outlets are an excellent way of not only entertaining oneself but also expressing and processing potentially difficult emotions. Creative activities can include colouring books (which nowadays are available for a range of ability levels featuring everything from simple shapes to complex patterns and designs), painting using watercolours or acrylics, and creating and decorating scrapbooks and photo albums. This last activity is especially useful when an individual is suffering from memory deterioration – allowing them to keep a record of their daily lives, family, or fond memories from their past. Carers can assist and encourage many of these creative activities by sourcing supplies, boosting their client’s self-in their artistic endeavours, and joining in with individuals that may need a little extra help.

Games

While they can be seen as ‘just a bit of fun,’ games are a great way to keep your mind active and challenged, and a way to combat loneliness as many can be played in pairs or groups. Bingo is a beloved game for many and can be arranged as a weekly trip and something to look forward to and a way to maintain social networks. Other games such as scrabble, checkers, or snap are easy to learn and are enjoyable for all ages. For times when an individual is not in the mood to socialise, word-searches, crosswords, sudoku and solitaire are all brilliant games to keep entertained and require minimal set-up or assistance.

Tailoring to individual needs

Everyone is different, pushing someone to take part in activities they don’t enjoy will only make them more restless and agitated. An experienced carer will always ensure they talk with their clients to find out their hobbies, likes and dislikes. Choosing tasks based on an individual’s history, abilities and needs is also essential to ensuring that activities are suitably engaging. Maybe an individual has always enjoyed sketching or chess, or even games on tablets and computers. Finding the right live-in carer with similar interests is a great way to counter loneliness and forge real friendships at the same time.

Sources: Heidinger, Theresa, and Lukas Richter. “The effect of COVID-19 on loneliness in the elderly. An empirical comparison of pre-and peri-pandemic loneliness in community-dwelling elderly.” Frontiers in Psychology (2020): 2595