As we age, our social circles tend to shrink, and we may experience a sense of isolation and loneliness. This is especially true for elderly people, who often feel disconnected from the world around them.
Studies on loneliness in the UK revealed that 6-13% of people over the age of 65 reported feel lonely 'all or most of the time'
Many of those who access community care services, like carers we at Cera provide, tend to be older and understanding the impact of loneliness and the importance of conversation for them is vital to our carers and helps them really see the difference their visits make.
The Impact of Loneliness on Elderly People
The impact of loneliness on older people can be significant. Studies have shown that socially isolated older people have a higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, depression, and dementia. Loneliness can also lead to a decline in cognitive function and increase the risk of falls and hospitalizations. It was also found that some of those who feel lonely may be less likely to engage in healthy behaviours and have a decreased quality of life.
How Can Carer Conversations Help?
One of the simplest and most effective ways to combat loneliness is through conversation. A friendly chat or a meaningful conversation can make a world of difference for a lonely person. Conversation can help them feel valued, seen, and connected with the world around them.
When carers engage in conversation with service users they are not only showing that they care about their physical health, but also their mental wellbeing and ensure they never feel alone.
Discover more about the difference carers make in our Letter To My Carer video here:
Tips for Carers Engaging in Meaningful Conversations with Service Users
We know that engaging in meaningful conversations with older people will make a huge difference to them, but what are the best ways to ensure that conversation is adapted to them?
Start with a smile:
It might seem obvious, but a welcoming smile is a great way to open a conversation. Many of our carers arrive at service users' homes and enter using a key. Going to the service user, smiling and introducing yourself or asking them how their day is going is the perfect way to start a visit.
Show the person that you are fully present and engaged in the conversation. Avoid distractions such as your phone or other devices. It’s great to continue conversation as you are working, such as setting up meals or organising medication, but engage the user in what you are doing as well by chatting as you do.
Listen to what they are saying and respond with empathy and understanding. Show that you value their input and perspective. It is not enough just to ask questions, remember to build off of their answers and show you’ve really listened to what they are saying.
Ask open-ended questions:
Ask questions that encourage the senior to share their thoughts and feelings. These are great for learning more about them and building a connection with them,
Share your own experiences:
Share your own stories and experiences to help build a connection with the service user. This can help them feel more comfortable and engaged in the conversation.
Sometimes those who are older, or those with disabilities may take longer to process information and respond to questions. Be patient and give them the time they need to express themselves.
If you are the type of person who is comfortable chatting to anyone and loves to build strong caring relationships, then a career in care could be perfect for you. With branches across the UK, your career in care might be close than you think. Check out or branch locator to discover your nearest here.
If you’re interested in becoming a care professional with us, click here to view current care jobs.