Oddfellows Friendship month: The Importance of Friendship for the Elderly

September marks Oddfellows Friendship Month, an opportunity to celebrate friendships amongst the elderly.

After 18 months of isolation and social restrictions, Oddfellows are on a mission to bring friends back together and encourage new connections, and there is no one who has experienced this more than care home residents and staff.

One of the main things that lockdown showed us was just how important our connections with other people are and just how much we rely on the support of our wonderful community.

At Churchfields care home, we recognise and appreciate the benefits that strong friendships within a care home environment provide. Therefore, we have put together a few points which highlight the benefits of friendship, maintaining friendships and meeting new people:

Some of the benefits of friendship

One of the most significant benefits that stem from having close bonds with others is that it reduces any potential feelings of loneliness.

As we all grow older and enter retirement, it’s likely that we’ll find ourselves with more time on our hands that family can’t always fill. As a result, loneliness can begin to develop. 

In addition to this, loneliness can also lead to feelings of depression and anxiety, which can leave individuals feeling disinterested in typical day to day activities. However, by developing friendships with other people, a person will feel an increased sense of belonging and purpose, along with improved confidence and self-worth.

Here at Churchfields Care Home, we encourage special one to one time where our residents can connect with one another. This could be anything from enjoying a spot of tea and cake in the garden to painting, colouring or crafting together.

Friendships can also play an essential part in a person’s ability to cope with trauma. Having someone available to provide support and talk through emotions can be crucial in dealing with upsetting events such as divorce, serious illnesses or the death of a loved one.

But, most importantly for those experiencing dementia, friendships can support sharp cognitive skills as being able to talk and interact with people can stimulate the brain, exercising the mind.

Nurturing friendships

Some older people can begin to find it harder to nurture their existing friendships as travelling independently can become more difficult, as can communication with disorders such as dementia impacting on cognitive ability. 

However, it’s important to remember that it’s not about having lots of friends. Instead, many older people receive the best benefits from having closer connections with a few people, while others will benefit more from being around other individuals. 

Here at Churchfields, many new friendships have blossomed over the lockdown period, allowing new relationships and bonds to form which has been beautiful to see.

Supporting your loved one in being able to communicate with existing friends or finding scenarios where they can be surrounded by others is a great place to start.

Meeting new people

If your loved one is beginning to feel lonely, it can be much simpler than you think to find social scenarios for them to engage with. 

Consider finding community events, groups or day centres that they can become a part of. These provide many benefits for older people as they are often packed full of activities and likeminded people, supporting elderly individuals to stay healthy and meet new people. 

There are also plenty of befriending services available for those who may find it hard to get out and about. For example, Age UK offer both face-to-face befriending and telephone friendship calls.

Alternatively, if they also need additional care and support, it may be time to explore the option of moving into a care home. Many residential homes support individuals in remaining independent and healthy but provide them with the opportunity to meet new people, take part in social interactions and enjoy plenty of activities.

Here at Churchfields Care Home, we ensure to give the best care possible to our residents. Mental Health and Well-Being support is at the centre of our philosophy. Our carers spend time with every resident each day to discuss how they’re feeling and monitor their emotional wellness. 

We also host a range of daily activities to keep them engaged, allowing residents to explore their creative side while connecting with others socially.

If you’d like to hear more about our Cassington-based home, our team would love to speak to you. To contact us, call 01865 881440, and keep up to date with the latest news on our Facebook page.

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