Growing old can pose many challenges to our daily life, health and wellbeing. And yet not all of them are obvious ones that you might expect. Although many of our relatives might experience mobility issues, health problems, and even mental deterioration, loneliness can also be a huge problem for older people. If you have an elderly relative who is living alone, here are 5 ways to combat loneliness to ensure their wellbeing.

1. Regular Visits

We all have busy lives, and it can be difficult to find the time to sit down and have a cup of tea with your parents, grandparent or great aunt. However it would be hard to overestimate how valuable just half an hour of company can be to someone who is living alone. So try to make time in your schedule for them if you live close by, and encourage the rest of the family to make an effort too.

2. Television

Although this might not be the physical company of a friend or relative, television can be a vital source of comfort to elderly people. Helping them to stay entertained and in touch with the rest of the world, it’s important that they are happy with their TV. If they don’t have one already, consider getting them a digital box with more channels.

3. Phone Calls

If you can’t find the time to pop over and see them, especially if you live far away, don’t forget to give your loved one a call whenever you can. By checking in every few days to update them on what’s been happening and see how they are, will make sure that everything is ok at their end whilst providing a chance for them to talk and feel connected to the family.

4. Home Care

Home care can be a great option for elderly people living alone, as it not only provides help with chores and the daily routine, but provides regular contact with a friendly face too. Even if they are visiting for only an hour every week, this visit gives them someone to talk with and another point of contact, for busy families who are concerned about their relative’s wellbeing.

5. A Pet

Having responsibility for a pet can be a huge comfort to elderly people, giving them a sense of purpose and something to love if they don’t have anyone to keep them company. So if your relative seems a little lonely, why not discuss whether they would like to adopt a cat? These furry friends are low maintenance but very comforting for anyone with limited mobility who could do with cheering up.

Loneliness doesn’t have to be inevitable with old age, and there are many ways to combat this isolated feeling if you have an elderly relative who seems unhappy. From direct contact with the family to more innovative solutions, take one or two or these steps to help your loved one feel connected to the rest of the world.

Article by Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, A yorkshire girl who loves the outdoors and international cuisine. Follow her @KellyGGrassam.