Steps to Address Loneliness in Aged Care Residents

Part 1 of a 2-part series on tackling the loneliness epidemic in aged care

Social distancing requirements Covid-19 The pandemic has highlighted the prevalence of loneliness in aged care. But the issue is deep-rooted and existed long before the pandemic began. In fact, actually, a study published in Journal of Gerontological Social Work In 2018, it found that nearly 70% of residents in three public senior housing communities in St. Louis were moderately or severely lonely. Residents have access to resources, support programs and activities was intended to help reduce loneliness.

Loneliness persists and can be widespread great care, and winter can be especially difficult. In this two-part series, we’ll highlight a variety of solutions that aged care facilities can help address the problem.

Why Loneliness Is a Growing Problem

Chris Brickler

Chris Brickler, senior care expert and founder of MyndVR

Social distancing restrictions may have been largely lifted, but loneliness in aged care persists and continues to grow. Chris Brickler, senior care expert and founder MyndVR, explains that loneliness is part of a larger issue related to the high growth rate of the elderly population. “Our age demographics around the world and in the United States will change significantly in the next few years, with people over 65 outnumbering people under 18,” he says. “In 2017, the US Department of Community Housing found that by 2060, there will be an estimated 98 million US residents over the age of 65, all of whom will be dealing with health problems, loneliness.”

Exacerbating the issue is that there will be fewer young people entering the workforce as caregivers. This will result in caregivers being spread thin, meaning they will not be able to provide the attention and support that all seniors need.

Brickler explains that the many changes that seniors go through affect their loneliness. As seniors age, they lose spouses, friends, and family, and have fewer opportunities to drive or go out and socialize. Such situations often lead to loneliness.

“Loneliness causes health problems for people of all ages, but older age certainly has a compounding effect,” she says. “Chronic diseasesmuscle wasting and the risk of heart attack and stroke are all affected by a person’s activity level, and this is especially true for older adults.

“Also, it is generally understood that ill-health and loneliness have a bidirectional effect: social isolation worsens health and ill-health can create more. social isolation,” Brickler says, adding, “Seniors can eventually become overly withdrawn, the effects of their mental states causing rapid decline in their cognitive and physical health, reducing the length and quality of their lives.”

Steps to Address Loneliness in Aged Care Residents

When it comes to addressing resident loneliness, Brickler says it’s important for caregivers to take the time to build relationships with residents. “It’s important that residents feel they are treated as unique individuals by the people they interact with,” she says. “It could be as simple as learning a bit about their family, their background, or what they’re looking forward to that day or week. For older people who feel lonely and isolated, a little goes a long way.”

A focus on person-centered care is also beneficial. Brickler explains that it is important to understand the different ways in which individuals respond to activities. A more outgoing resident may fully enjoy three group meals and two social activities per day, but a resident who prefers one-on-one interaction may find the same schedule tiring and withdraw further.

“When approaching the complex issue of loneliness, it’s incredibly important to understand what someone’s individual needs might be based on their history and preferences,” Brickler explains. “This creates a road map for more effective care and ultimately helps caregivers deal more effectively with the challenges of loneliness. If supervisors do not spend time understanding what works for residents on an individual level, they will miss the opportunity to provide more effective care.

Brickler also encourages senior care organizations to stay abreast of innovations in the space. Given the growing awareness of the issues facing older residents and their caregivers, more people are trying to address these issues. “The more caregivers can research and identify what new technology or products can benefit their residents, the more likely they are to discover something really effective that can make their jobs easier, either directly benefiting residents or helping caregivers do their jobs more efficiently.” is high. Brickler says.

Using technology to overcome loneliness

thanks to advances technology, aged care facilities have more tools to combat loneliness. Brickler explains that assessment, communication and therapeutic tools have undergone major advances in the past few years, and there is also a greater understanding of the value of digital therapeutics.

“Being able to gather accurate information about mood and health welfare For example, using eye-tracking technology or voice pattern analysis can help determine what an older person might be experiencing and what the appropriate remedial action might be,” he says. “Immersive experiences using Virtual Reality can improve mood, reduce loneliness, and overall well-being.” can provide a scalable and efficient tool to improve well-being.”

Virtual reality allows residents to travel anywhere in the world and their loved ones can join their journey without leaving the comfort of their homes. “The impact it has on seniors is incredible,” says Brickler. “Some studies have reported that nearly 90% of older adults who participated in travel-related Virtual Reality content felt more relaxed and had higher levels of well-being after their adventures.”

This kind technology can help residents create valuable connections and interactions with others. In the second part of this series, we will focus on how the innovative use of peer groups also helps to create such connections.

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