Old age does not have to be about loneliness and being left out of social relationships! You can grow old comfortably and with people close to you! Especially nowadays, when we have the opportunity to communicate with people from all over the world! Older people now have many more opportunities to maintain contact with friends and family, as well as to meet new people and remain socially active. Still not convinced? Not sure how to deal with loneliness? Here are ways to combat loneliness and social isolation in ageing and reduce elderly loneliness!
Dangers of elderly loneliness
There is a lot of talk about the diseases of old age that can affect a senior’s well-being and life. Elderly loneliness is less talked about, and research shows that loneliness can be more dangerous for seniors than circulatory problems or smoking. Loneliness in the elderly is brought up in public discussions mainly during the pre-Christmas period. This is when there are media campaigns and appeals not to leave grandparents or parents alone.
The situation has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and the recommendations to stay in one’s own home and limit contact to the closest circle. That can make everyone feel loneliness more acutely, which is particularly dangerous for the elderly. Although elderly loneliness may not seem like a significant problem, the truth is that it can affect both quality of life and physical health. According to a study conducted by the University of California in San Francisco, it appears that people aged 60 and older who self-reported feeling lonely had a 45% higher risk of dying. These people are also 59% more likely to experience mental and physical deterioration, which was primarily manifested in their ability to carry out daily living activities. Research shows that lonely people are more likely to suffer health problems, lose the will to live, stop taking care of themselves and even, through indifference and depression, stop asking for help. How can this be prevented? How to deal with elderly loneliness?
How to combat loneliness in the elderly?
The consequences of elderly loneliness can have serious implications for both the mental and physical health of seniors. If you are concerned about your ageing parents, grandparents, friends, or other loved ones, then do not wait, just take action and do something about it. Many simple things can be done to counteract senior loneliness! The same goes for seniors themselves! You do not have to accept a lonely fate! So, how to deal with loneliness in the elderly? Here are some of our ideas!
Live and online conversation
Nothing combats loneliness like a frank conversation with another person! Therefore, if you are worried about a senior friend, or yourself, break the ice! Talk to people on the street, call loved ones, and teach your senior friend to use the phone or even the Internet. After all, being able to use the Internet and the telephone is not only one of the most effective ways to deal with loneliness in the elderly but also a direct way to keep seniors safe!
Activities and sports
Another way to combat loneliness in the elderly is to persuade a senior friend to take part in art, educational or sporting activities! This is a great idea both in terms of combating elderly loneliness and as a way to maintain mental and physical health. By participating in group activities, seniors feel part of society and do not feel that they are passing away.
Seniors often have negative attitudes towards human contact. They feel that they are uninteresting and that they are an imposition. This is obviously not true! But if you are dealing with an antisocial senior, or simply one who loves animals, why not offer them a pet? Of course, not all pets will be suitable for seniors, so you should match the pet to their abilities, but in many cases, pets are the best way how to deal with loneliness! It could be an elderly dog, cat, rabbit or even fish because all that matters is that they make the elderly person feel needed!
Another idea for counteracting elderly loneliness is to encourage them to cultivate their passions and interests. This helps the senior to feel engaged in life and also helps to keep the mind fit. It is also worth encouraging the senior to discover new hobbies, as it is never too late! We especially recommend painting, reading, puzzles, crosswords, or learning languages!
And what would you add to this roster? Let’s open a discussion in the comments section! And for more information on old age and the lives of older people, visit our blog! Enjoy your reading!