Strategies to help prevent loneliness and isolation? Think pet companionship too!
If you or anyone you know is living alone right now, perhaps there is a level of concern about loneliness.
Thankfully while we live in a time of online technology, there is often an underlying awareness of wanting a bit more than just the voices or images of others to have a feeling of real connection right now.
So, Lets talk about loneliness and its impact on mental health.
Right now - due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, many people are experiencing deep loneliness - perhaps for the first time ever.
So many people who are elderly, infirm or isolated for other reasons experience this every day... often prior to any lock down crisis the rest of us are experiencing right now too.
What we are learning now - valuable insights into life changes beyond our control, can hopefully be turned into compassion for others, checking in on others, getting empathy and learning new strategies ..
Imagine how amazing a more connected community will be!
In this moment right now, we can start to recognize that there are great strategies we can put into plce - right now - to help change the state and situation for ourselves and for those who are experiencing loneliness.
We all know someone who is lonely, suffering from no physical or emotional connection right now...
In fact, I very recently took steps to help my Mum. My father, a very affectionate man, passed way in mid 2019 just short of their 60th wedding anniversary, and my mother who is in her 80's misses his presence so much. She has had to stop her very frequent outings with family and friends due to her health concerns during these times, as she has immune issues no-one can touch her at all unless fully gloved & masked up. The combination of not getting any hugs, or close affection - physical contact and the isolation when not visited, meant she was not doing as well emotionally and mentally as she would normally . Her increased annoyance, agitation and frustration was a clear indicator that she was suffering, and so we knew we need to act and to act quickly to help her decline in emotional, mental health, which would of course impact her immune system and general health inevitably.
How to help? So lets consider the amazing companionship and love of animals... the therapeutic presence of companion animals is well documented for supporting both physical and mental resilience Fostering and adopting animals into our lives, can make anyplace, anytime better - through physical and emotional connection - with that other fellow earthling...
Someone to care for, to think about, to have a motivation to get into action and feed and care for another - frees us all up from suffering and overthinking ourselves - doesn't it! So many rescue animals need us, and importantly - we need them too!
So this is how we helped. I brought up the idea about a fostered rescued animal to be a companion for my mum, she thought about it and came back and said - "Yes - I would like an older cat, someone who needs me" - that was all I needed to hear! We worked as a team, myself and my nieces found a cat in need of fostering, a rescue cat, we determined with the rescue that he was placid, sweet and affectionate and that they were OK with a foster with a view to adopt... and that we - mum's family - were well placed to step in to take over if there were any issues - we were - and everything moved along quickly! We quickly moved to do foster paperwork and get him to my mum with all the food, litter, toys etc that he would need for about a month.
The moment they met, they were friends - it was within minutes of Henry's arrival, that mum physically relaxed, her posture changes, her voice relaxed, she was focused externally for the first time in a long while. What did Henry need, what did Henry want, Isn't Henry lovely and comfortable - and so pretty? What happened? Connection, emotional support and affection and being able to focus on someone else's needs, fundamental human animal needs. Those all important aspects of companionship, trust and affectionate by the way of pats and cuddles, a purpose for getting up and around to do things for someone else. It was all stuff that helped to relieve my mothers suffering - that loneliness, that need for touch and connection and affection were met beautifully by this furry feline friend.
Something to consider, someone to love and be loved back by - can make all the difference can't it?
If you want some tips and pointers about how to integrate a pet into a house - either as a foster or an adoption - contact me - I will do all I can to help!
I have been in animal rescue for as long as I can remember and I am happy to help!
Kerry Bailey (Senior practitioner)
Sydney Hypno & Functional Mind Clinic
Tech based Video App Sessions via available via Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp etc
Phone support on: 0412-412-881