Retirement home

A project in Navarre will study loneliness among the elderly

A project in Navarre will study loneliness among the elderly

This is an issue even in retirement residences where they are technically not alone

Loneliness is one of the toughest things about growing old. Not all elderly citizens have the chance to spend their retirement years surrounded by family members and friends. For many, the reality is having to live alone at home, even if receiving occasional medical care or living in specialized old age residences.

It turns out that even living in residences does not always solve the feeling of loneliness. To that end, the Government of Navarre has decided to finance a research project, which will study the benefits of reducing loneliness with the help of personalized attention and care. The Navarrese Department of Social Rights will collaborate with Lares (association of residential centres) and Familiados (a company providing domestic care for the elderly).

With the arrival of COVID-19 the project took on an even greater urgency

The name of the initiative “Proyecto Soledad” (Loneliness Project) says it all in a way – addressing the burden of being alone and providing mental well-being and comfort for the ageing residents. The medium-term and long-term goals are to establish targeted programmes at the retirement and nursing homes in the northern Spanish region, which will alleviate the inherent loneliness that many residents feel.

Living in a community is not synonymous with not feeling lonely. Many residents have family needs, they do not have friends inside the residence, which generates a feeling of loneliness,” said Beatriz Lacabe, technical secretary of Lares Navarre Association.

The first stage of the initiative had already been carried out at the San Manuel and San Severino residence in Tafalla and the study will still take place in other centres involving 18 residents. Half of them will receive accompaniment from professional social workers, and the other half will not for the purpose of having a control group for comparison.

Starting from the mutual knowledge between the companion and the resident and their preferences, the activities that will be developed during the three months that the project lasts are established,” explained Nuria Carcavilla, a psychologist and collaborator of the project. She then added that the activities in question can range "from communication and social contact to emotions and social interaction”.

At the end, a questionnaire will be employed to measure the scale of loneliness and the progress in terms of cognitive, sensory and social skills among the participants.

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