According to Age UK, 2.9 million people in the UK aged 65 and over feel they have no one to turn to for help and support.
If you have relatives, friends or neighbours who are older and are worried about their wellbeing, there are plenty of ways that you can help support them.
Supporting someone to remain independent
There are many ways you can support someone to remain independent for longer, but here are a few examples.
If they struggle to get to the shops, you could consider helping them order groceries online and get them delivered to their door. If they don’t know how to use a computer, you could try to teach them or help them sign up for lessons run by Age UK.
For someone who finds they have trouble reading, you could help them purchase reading glasses or magnifying tools – there’s a wide range of these to suit all requirements. You could also have a look at the RNIB’s Reading Choices website, which includes books, newspapers, magazines and sheet music.
If they are worried about having a fall or other emergency, you could help them look into a personal alarm system. These can be portable alarms – normally worn as a pendant or wristband – or fixed-position pull cords within the house that they can use to call for help. Some people may be able to get them for free as part of their care assessment. You can find out more on the NHS website.
Additionally, if they need adaptations to their home or someone to help them out, then you may suggest to them that they go for a care and support needs assessment. You can find out more about these on the NHS website.
Loneliness and isolation
Older people, particularly those who live alone, can be at risk of becoming isolated and lonely. If you have loved ones who are elderly, try and drop in for regular visits or – if that’s not possible – pick up the phone and give them a ring.
If you have a neighbour who’s older, try stopping for a chat if you pass them in the street. If you’re new to the area, you could always knock on their door and introduce yourself. Speak clearly and pause between sentences and questions to give them time to respond.
If you think they may be lonely, try inviting them over for a cup of tea or offering to help them with chores, such as tidying the garden. If they can’t drive, you could offer to help take them to see friends or visit a local community group or club. If they say “no”, then don’t press them.
Supporting someone following a fall
Even if you didn’t witness the person fall or they say they’re fine, it’s important to ensure they visit their GP, walk-in clinic or A&E for a check-up. Check up on them regularly for a few days afterwards to ensure they’re ok.
If you’re there when someone has a fall:
- Don’t get them up straight away
- Ask if they are in any pain
- Get them to relax and take some deep breaths in through their nose and out through their mouth
- Whilst they do this, check them over for any signs of injury, such as swelling or skin discolouration
- If there is no sign of injury, help them get up
- If they’re in a lot of pain or struggle to move, then call 999.
If you need to call an ambulance then make the person as comfortable as possible. If inside, carefully place a pillow, cushion or rolled up clothing under their head. If they’re outside, keep them warm by placing a coat or blanket over them.
Coping with dementia
By 2025 there will be 1 million people with dementia in the UK. Symptoms may include memory loss, changes in personality and difficulties with reasoning or language.
You can find out more about supporting and caring for someone with dementia through
- our Coping with Dementia download
- our Dementia Care download
- the Alzheimer’s Society and
- the Alzheimer’s Café UK.
You can find more advice on physical health and wellbeing on our support services pages, including healthy living for older people, how to manage a long-term condition and look after your children’s health.
Ben is here to provide support for life to those who work in the UK’s automotive industry and their families. If you or your loved ones need support or advice, you can ring our free, confidential helpline on 08081 311 333 or use our online chat.