One of the most common issues that elderly people face is social isolation. This leads to adverse effects on their health and overall well-being. In fact, research has found that loneliness in the elderly is connected to a vast array of health problems, including mental health concerns, such as depression, and physical ones, like heart disease.
What makes the elderly lonely in the first place?
Humans are social creatures by default. Given that, connecting with others is a bare necessity for anyone’s peace of mind. Unfortunately, many older Adults have less and less social interaction as they get older. Some reasons for this include, but are not limited to:
- Activities of daily living like preparing meals and getting dressed can take lots of effort, and after all that, they have little to no social energy left.
- Unable to drive or immobilized due to certain health conditions that limits their mobility for socializing with friends and family or have no means for transportation, limiting their ability to socialize with far-off people.
- They have trouble visiting family and friends because they can’t drive as well anymore, are no longer as agile or mobile, and have certain health conditions.
- While technological advancements have made for video calling, many elderly people are either unable to figure out to use such mediums or have no device to use for such functions.
How does loneliness affect older people?
There are mental and physical tolls that loneliness causes for older adults. Some ways include:
- Anxiety, depression, and triggered moments, such as chronic stress.
- Functional decline in everyday task like dressing, eating, bathing, and walking. Palliative care or hospice.
- Loneliness has been linked to health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure.
What are great ways for loneliness to be alleviated in the elderly?
It doesn’t take much to help older people have more of a connection. Some ways include:
- Communicate to understand their needs. Another way to understand their needs would be to use active listening. A person could be socially withdrawn because they do not like playing bingo. Through active listening, we may find the person would rather partake in a book club. Unfortunately, we do not provide home health services. Be sure to have a conversation with your loved ones to see if senior isolation is a concern. Some obstacles can be addressed easily, like getting a hearing aid for someone with impaired hearing.
- Explore new hobbies. One of the best ways to fend off isolation for seniors is having a hobby. This will be especially helpful if it’s a social one, such as dancing, golf, or lunch with a group of friends. Ask what they enjoyed in their youth, where their interests are at now, Also check community resources for newsletters, leisure, and activities for free. AARP is a great tool for caregivers to find a new “spark” for the aging adult.
- Schedule regular phone calls. It’s a busy time for everyone, especially in today’s modern times. However, even a couple of minutes can make all the difference for a senior that’s experiencing loneliness. Make the time to have a phone call every day. This kind of contact will be able to give a feeling of closeness despite being physically distant. Particular valuable for those who have grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Golden Rule Hospice: Hospice Care in Atlanta
Contrary to popular belief, loneliness does not come with aging. No matter how old we are, it’s key to have people who genuinely care in our lives. As such, it’s best to be mindful of how to prevent our loved ones from feeling lonely—no matter how old they may be.
Mention Golden Rule Hospice Volunteer Program that can assist with preventing loneliness once on service. Our volunteers can use the tips listed above for our clients. Call us at (470) 395-6567 to find out more about our services.