Loneliness and isolation are all too common among the elderly. Roughly 13.8 million seniors live alone. Many of these individuals are able to cope and gain the interactions and social life that they desire. However, many also suffer from severe isolation and loneliness. Loneliness is when an individual feels alone and isolated from society, friendship, and human interaction. The individual desires companionship and socialization but is unable to fulfill that desire. Loneliness can lead to health issues, namely anxiety, stroke, depression, cognitive decline, diabetes type II, heart problems, and premature death.¹ So what are some ways to combat loneliness in the elderly?
Recognize the Signs of Loneliness
Even an individual that was once outgoing can succumb to the effects of chronic loneliness. Individuals who are struggling with loneliness may:
- Feel like they do not have any close friends or family to confide in.
- Feel like they are unable to connect with others in conversation and thought process.
- Find that their confidence is wavering or lost, and they are not ‘enough’.
- Avoid communication with others and not return texts or phone calls.
- Experience severe anxiety and apprehension when they do interact with others.
- Exhibit physical symptoms such as sleeping issues, poor health, and poor diet.
- Slack on their grooming and hygiene.
- Lose interest in hobbies and activities that they once enjoyed.
Regularly Engage in Positive Activities
As an individual retires from their career and lets go of their normal routine, they must find new ways to fill their time and create meaningful life moments. This can be a difficult process. Regularly engaging in positive activities helps seniors to interact with others and keep their mind and bodies active. Having a schedule that consists of activities that an individual can look forward to gives them something to depend on and grow from. Some positive activities could include:
- Joining a club or organization with individuals that are of a similar age and have similar interests.
- This could include a health club, senior center, book club, sports group, volunteer organization, cause-based society, or retirement community.
- Participating in adult day-stay programs.
- Adult day-stay programs are a great way for individuals to interact with their peers, dine together, participate in fun activities, and go on outings.
- Consistently get together and connect with friends and family.
- This could entail monthly dinners or lunches, weekly outings, regular phone calls, or virtual gatherings.
Seek Medical Help If Needed
Sometimes loneliness can lead to chronic isolation and even depression. It is important to recognize the signs of chronic loneliness and seek medical attention if necessary. Medical providers such as therapists, social workers, and counselors can provide guidance on how to combat isolation, depression, and chronic loneliness.
The good news is that there are healthy outlets and activities that can ease this hardship. Seniors do not have to feel alone, abandoned, or isolated. Whether you yourself are showing signs of loneliness, or a loved one is, take action today to overcome it. As you do, more meaningful moments and relationships will be created, and overall wellness will be enhanced.
NIH. (2019). Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/social-isolation-loneliness-older-people-pose-health-risks
Cigna. (n.d.). Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Loneliness. Retrieved from https://www.cigna.com/knowledge-center/chronic-loneliness
Let Us Help You Today!
We welcome the opportunity to speak with you about The Cottages and the care that our residents receive at our Idaho locations. We are experts in assisted living, memory care, respite, adult day care, and have been serving seniors for over 20 years. Our small home-like senior living homes and specially-trained team members offer an atmosphere that promotes the well-being of your loved one.
If you have any questions, would like to tour one of the Idaho assisted living or memory care homes, or receive a no-pressure consultation with one of our licensed administrators, please fill out the form below. Please mention which location(s) you’re interested in.