Are the Golden Years Really Golden?
Even with today’s technological advances, Senior adults feel more alone and isolated than ever before. 18% of Seniors live alone and 43% of Seniors reported that they feel lonely on a regular basis. The alarming fact with these statistics is that a feeling of loneliness impacts the risk for mental and physical decline as well as death. And loneliness is also contagious.
When Seniors feel alone, their behavior can cause other people to avoid being around them. One surprising fact is that two-thirds of those Seniors who reported feeling lonely were married or living with someone.
This is a direct reflection about the importance of having a meaningful relationship that makes the Senior feel loved, wanted, and needed.
Why are Seniors Lonely?
Many older adults are placed in assisted living facilities or nursing homes where their lifestyle changes and they are disoriented in their new surroundings.
Deep communication that’s engaging is the key to a Senior’s good mental health and feelings of mattering in the life of someone else. To alleviate loneliness if you’re a family member or a caregiver you can:
Observe and listen. Encourage the Senior to express their hopes, dreams, and desires, and listen when they tell stories about their lives
Develop an anti-seclusion strategy. Learn what they like to do and where they like to go.
Explore their passions and hobbies and encourage them to participate with others who have similar interests.
Ask them to teach you something. Whether it’s knitting, gardening, or painting let them know you’d appreciate some lessons. This is an excellent bonding experience and can balance their day to day challenges.
Foster relationships between Seniors and younger members of the community. Suggest pen pals or reading to children to improve their learning capabilities.
Encourage their family members to send cards, call, or drop by with a small present from time to time.
Because isolation and loneliness are linked to health issues like mortality, dementia, and increased falls it’s a good idea to use some of the following strategies for helping the Senior in your life to avoid isolation.
Provide transportation when Seniors don’t drive. This helps them remain active and allows them to engage in some social interactions that promote good health. On your way to the destination you can also enjoy conversation that stimulates their brain and helps to promote a sense of positive purpose.
Encourage them to regularly attend worship services especially if they are accustomed to going to church. This places them in the watchful eye of fellow church-goers and gets them actively involved social interaction.
Work with Seniors on a positive image of themselves. You can assist them with diet and exercise so that they remain mobile and in good physical shape. When Seniors look and feel good they are more inclined to interact with those around them in the community.
Promoting some of these ideas with the Senior in your life will keep them happy, healthy, and ready to enjoy an active lifestyle.