Posted on 04/02/2016

Combat Valentine's Day loneliness with our Conversation Starters

Combat Valentine's Day loneliness with our Conversation Starters

As Valentine’s Day approaches, many people – particularly the elderly – will be reminded of the fact they don’t have someone to share their day with, whether their significant other has passed away, their family has moved on, or they simply don’t have anyone nearby. With 3.5 million people aged 65+ living alone in the UK, we’ve been finding out how people really feel about Valentine’s Day and thinking of simple ways to help combat the loneliness that many elderly people feel around this time of year.

“Valentine’s Day is now far too commercial.”

We asked 519 people how they felt about the commercialism surround Valentine’s Day, and an overwhelming 81% felt finding the perfect gift was overshadowing the real meaning of the day – to show love to one another. And, unsurprisingly, the percentage was even higher in those over the age of 65: 91% of this age group felt that the day was now far too commercial.

Loneliness is a distressing condition which can be as harmful for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. So, to help combat the loneliness some older people can feel around February 14th, we’ve created a series of Conversation Starter Cards that can be downloaded and printed out here.

Your visit or phone call could make all the difference

Visiting an older person, whether they’re a relative, neighbour or acquaintance, can often seem daunting as many are unsure of what to talk about. But it may be your visit or phone call that staves off the solitude for another day. Our Conversation Starters are a simple yet effective solution. If you’re stuck for something to say, pull out one of our cards to give you a starting point – you’ll soon see how quickly the conversation flows, after all, an elderly person has just as many, if not more, stories to tell.

We recommend using a few open ended questions with the magic phrase:
“Tell me about…”

Rachel Seabrook, our Clinical Lead, explains that older people, especially ones living with dementia, can feel as if they’re being quizzed with a direct question. Giving them a chance to open up and not worry about giving the “correct answer” can put both them and you much more at ease to allow conversation to flow.

Download and print our Conversation Starter Cards here, and let us know if you have any tips on how to kick off a conversation.

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