Loneliness is a valid concern for the elderly. Approximately 28 percent or 13.8 million, of older adult Americans, live alone. Living alone doesn’t necessarily mean that an older adult is lonely. However, it can contribute to social isolation, especially if a senior becomes less mobile. Seniors who live with a spouse or extended family members aren’t protected against loneliness. It’s possible for them to feel lonely despite being surrounded by others.
Studies confirm the negative effects of loneliness in older adulthood. Lonely seniors have a higher risk for depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cognitive decline. Older adults need to protect themselves against loneliness to preserve their health and well-being. If you are an older adult or are concerned about an aging relative who may be lonely, here are a few practical tips to overcome loneliness in seniors.
Expand Your Social Circle
Seniors have a greater risk for loneliness because their social circle diminishes with age. Significant life events, such as retirement or the loss of a close family member, leave holes in an older adult’s social life. Seniors can combat loneliness by expanding their social circle. Look for opportunities where there is potential to make new friends, such as joining a neighborhood book club, signing up for events at the library, or getting involved with groups at your church. Attend these activities with the intent to make a new social connection.
Volunteering is another way for seniors to expand their social circles while combating loneliness. Seniors who volunteer have greater satisfaction and lower their risk for social isolation. It also can give more purpose to your life, especially in retirement. Ask around about volunteer opportunities in your local community. Sign up for volunteer positions that involve working with other people so that you can make a social connection.
Liven Up the Home
Although pets aren’t a substitution for human interaction, caring for a pet has many physical and mental benefits for seniors. Pets also create a sense of purpose for seniors, especially those that live alone. If you’re capable of caring for a pet, consider adopting one from the local animal shelter. Choose an older pet that’s already been house-trained and may not require as much hands-on care as kittens or puppies. Plants are another way to bring more life into a lonely senior’s home. In addition to enhancing the overall appearance of the home, houseplants reduce stress, boost moods, and improve air quality.
Involve the Doctor
If you continue to struggle with loneliness, please bring it up at your next doctor’s appointment. There may be an underlying cause as to why you’re feeling lonely that a doctor can address. Such causes include hearing loss, incontinence, changes in vision, or unsteady gait. Your doctor can recommend medications or procedures that can eliminate these barriers. They can also screen for depression.
Many seniors choose to move to a senior living community to surround themselves with peers who will become friends. If you’re considering a move to a senior community, Senior Living Solutions is here to help. We offer free senior placement assistance in Arkansas to ease the burden of finding the best senior living options for your situation. We’ve personally toured and vetted senior living communities in the area and can save you a lot of time and headaches as you begin your search. If you prefer to stay home and age in place, we can help you find home care that offers companionship. Let us help you get connected so that you can combat loneliness. If you’re ready to lean on professionals with experience navigating senior living options, please contact us today by calling 501-650-3013.