Feeling like no one needs me anymore. That was the answer given to me when I asked an elderly client what the hardest part about getting older was. But what causes loneliness among the elderly, and how can we help to alleviate it? Studies show that Seniors who are lonely tend to decline faster both mentally and physically than those who are more social, with the lonely people having a 59 percent higher risk of decline. They also have a 45 percent greater risk for death. Loneliness can happen to people at any stage of their life, but elderly people are the ones most affected by it. Some elderly feel left alone by family and society but there are older people who, despite living with family, feel alone. This feeling of solitude and isolation can lead to several mental and physical illnesses. So what can we do?
Here Are Some Tips To Help Reduce Loneliness:
Listen to and Appreciate your Elderly loved one – Feeling that someone cares about what they say can help to alleviate a feeling of being alone and unappreciated. When you visit your loved one, take the time to ask questions, and really listen to their answers. Ask them to tell you more, and encourage them to talk about the things they are or were interested in. They probably don’t get this opportunity for deeper communication often enough.
Help them avoid seclusion – Sometimes people find their lives, abilities, and interests shrinking, until they end up living in seclusion. Try to find ways to get them back in touch with other people. This can sometimes be done through discovering the interests they used to have. If a person was an avid gardener, loved to embroider, or enjoyed singing in the choir, this can be something that rekindles their interest in life, and gives them a way to interact with other people again. Also, many of the local Senior Centers and Retirement Communities often provide activities that are enjoyable for Seniors, and the social interaction is great also.
Encourage family interaction – It is wonderful if you can visit your parents as often as you can, and it is even better if you can get other family members involved as well. Even if they aren’t in the same city, an occasional phone call or greeting card is always appreciated. It helps them feel like they are still connected to their family, and that people still care. If you can get grandkids or great-grandkids involved too, that can be a special bonding experience.
Other activities Seniors should do include;
- Walking in parks
- Joining a book club
- Spending time with positive people
- Laughing everyday
- Starting a new hobby or recommitting to an old one
If you need help with caring for an elderly loved one, consider Havenwood Caregiving Services. A professional with experience in helping seniors stay lively and healthy can assist your elderly loved one in having joy in their life and having their needs met.