Older People Need Company Too – Magdalena Turek

Older people are especially vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation. Magdalena Turek BA, MA, MBPsS writes for us on her photography project encouraging people to visit their loved ones in care homes. As a psychologist and specialist in the field of Alzheimer care, Magdalena provides a unique insight into the problem.

July 31st 2018

Ethical Photography

The photographs in this project were taken in a family-run care home in Poland. Although the home has exceptionally high standards and the carers are top specialists, residents often lack visits from their family. Older people seem to be forgotten. Sad but true.

To raise awareness of the issue, I decided to photograph people in the care home. My photographs can help build a stronger connection between older and younger generations by expressing the passing of time and the need to nurture relationships. We should not forget that there will come a time when we too will depend on the help of others.

On busy days, it is easy to forget to take care of older people. I hope that my photographs will remind people that there is someone they should visit, call and care for. One carer wrote:

“Elderly people in care homes are those who require constant care. Many overlapping diseases cause people to have difficulty with basic self-care activities as well as to recognise and remember the people who surround them. However, the fact that they cannot remember or express their opinion does not mean that they do not feel or sympathize. Many of them remain isolated from their children, their families. The pace of today’s world, the pursuit of “money” causes young people to neglect their parents, forgetting their feelings and their desire to be needed and important. Even if the visit is short, the momentary presence of loved ones causes those living in care homes great happiness and surprise, putting a smile on their faces. It is noticeable that their simple presence can be an opportunity for residents to charge the “accumulators” for the desire to live and be. It becomes unpleasant when many people are not visited by families at all. A warm room, TV or good food will never replace the presence of loved ones.”

The issue does not gain a lot of media attention but for me, there is nothing more important than my grandparents and parents. The least I can do is to be there for them in their last days. The photographs portray the wonderful time one can have with one’s parents or grandparents.

Through my photography, I aim to encourage people to pick up the phone and tell their loved ones that they think about them and love them.

I have also aimed to address the problem through a children’s guide called “Let me tell you Grandad…” It explains to children how to communicate with older people and make it a normal, everyday activity. The hope is that by reading it to their children, adults may learn from it too. Realising there is a problem is the first step in addressing the cry for help – “help me I feel not needed any more”.

However, I don’t currently have the funds to publish the guide. If you would like to support this project and help tackle the issue of loneliness and social isolation in older people please contact Magdalena at magdazapiecek@gmail.com. All support will help and together we can make big difference.