Valentine’s Day is approaching quickly, and while most of us look forward to it, it can be a time that many come to dread as it’s filled with reminders of those that they can no longer share the day with.  With this in mind, Rachel Seabrook, Clinical Lead at an organisation which makes products to support independent living in older age, has written a blog for the Campaign to End Loneliness about a product designed to help people reach out to those have no one  to share their day with.

It can be only too easy to feel lonely around the big day when you see offers aimed at couples at every turn, and unsurprisingly 81% of people surveyed by NRS Healthcare admitted that they feel that Valentine’s has become too commercial with the real purpose of the day being lost.

Instead of the focus being on finding the best possible gift you can, NRS Healthcare has decided to focus instead on showing love to someone who may not have any one to share their day with; after all, over 3.5 million people aged over 65 live alone in the UK, and from this group in the survey, 91% said the meaning behind Valentine’s Day has been lost.

Though awareness of loneliness in older people is now on the rise, it can be difficult to know what you can do to help a person in this situation. In many cases, one of the best ways to make a person feel valued is simply to make the time to talk to them –a phone call or a chat over a cup of tea, for example. People can feel daunted by the prospect of reaching out to people, however, as they worry they may not have something in common and aren’t sure how to initiate conversation.

As a solution to this, NRS Healthcare has designed a number of downloadable and printable Conversation Starter Cards to encourage conversation to start flowing. They recommend a simple way to develop easy-going conversation by using the phrase: “Tell me about…”

An older person, particularly someone who is living with dementia, may feel as though they’re being put on the spot with a broad question like “Where did you live when you were younger?” as they may feel that they’re being quizzed and worry about giving the correct answer. Inviting them to partake in a conversation with an open ended response will seem friendlier and much less threatening, allowing natural chat to flow.

Printing off these cards and using them as conversation prompts is a simple way for normal people to help to reduce loneliness in the elderly, especially at this time of year when they need it most.

You can download  the printable conversation Starter Cards here.