Elderly Individuals and the Struggle with Loneliness
Seniors Can Become More Isolated
For aging individuals, social circles begin to permanently shrink. They may move away for special care or to an assisted living facility. Sadly, elderly individuals also begin to face the death of close friends, family members, and significant others. Their own children start families of their own and become too busy to tend to an aging parent. Unfortunately, as a result of being physically alone and also lacking close companions, seniors experience a deep sense of isolation. This is compounded by the effects of increased vision and hearing loss, which only makes it harder for them to communicate, as well as maintain their independence. For some, it may become difficult to walk without a cane or climb multiple steps. These limitations can be frustrating and isolating and can cause elderly individuals to feel profoundly disconnected.
This type of profound loneliness has negative effects on both mental and physical health. Being isolated and lacking social interaction contributes to quicker cognitive decline, which may lead to mental diseases like dementia. Additionally, extreme feelings of isolation have been proven to not only increase the chances of developing high blood pressure but also to increase instances of long-term illness and even premature death.
Understand and Take Action
It is imperative that we not only become aware of the serious negative effects of loneliness on our elderly loved ones but that we also act. Physical care is not enough. Make a plan to arrange for their mental care as well as increasing positive social contact and allowing them to interact with people outside of their home. There are many ways to get them connected with people their age, such as getting them involved in community activities like senior nights. Being a part of a community and doing things to give back makes people feel good and helps to make them feel that they are contributing to something can raise their mood and motivation. As a companion, your job can be as simple as listening, allowing them to have someone to talk to. Find out what their current interests are, and develop ways for them to continue to pursue those interests. This can even help to bring back the passions they once had. Allow them to teach you, since the roles may now feel reversed, as the elder relies on the younger. Switching these roles restores their view on independence and traditional roles of the youth relying on adults.
For seniors, having invested companions becomes more and more important. Making sure someone is there for your elderly loved one to provide them with social interaction, companionship, and a friendly shoulder to lean on can be life-changing for them.
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