Nobody likes to feel alone, but for seniors aged 65-and-over, loneliness can be a constant companion. Chronic health conditions, lack of transportation and poor mobility can all leave seniors feeling lonely, depressed and unappreciated. If those negative feelings persist, they can cause serious health problems that eventually threaten an elderly person’s independence. If you have a loved one who’s currently got a major case of the “blues”, here are 5 ways to make them feel less alone on the road to a longer and happier life.
Why Do Seniors Feel Alone?
These are some of the reasons why the elderly struggle with loneliness and social isolation:
- Don’t feel needed anymore
- Poor mobility
- Loss of a spouse or partner
- Health issues that keep them homebound
- Low self-esteem
- No accessibility to affordable transportation
How Loneliness Harms Seniors
A recent study published in The Journals of Gerontology found that too many seniors live sedentary and socially isolated lifestyles which ultimately place their health at risk. Secondary health problems that may result from feeling alone include:
- Higher risk for developing cognitive impairment like dementia
- Poor nutrition
- Increased risk for falling and fall-related injuries
- Substance abuse
- Harder time recovering from illnesses or surgery
- Depression and even suicidal thoughts
According to other researchers, there appears to be a correlation between chronic loneliness, social isolation and a shorter lifespan. This news is certainly troubling when you’re trying to look after an aging in place relative or friend.
How to Prevent Loneliness
As an informal caregiver, here are 5 proven ways to help seniors feel less alone:
Watch and Listen
If you sense that loneliness is an issue but aren’t quite sure, make it a point to watch and listen. For example, if mom constantly complains that all her friends have passed away, it’s time to encourage her to make new ones by taking a class, joining a travel club or volunteering in the community. Look for tell-tale signs around the house like piles of dirty dishes and laundry. The first step in combatting loneliness is recognizing there’s a problem.
Involve Family Members
With relatives spread out across the country, the average family can’t interact like they used to. Let yours know that their elderly relative could use some encouragement and try scheduling a family get-together at your home. Sending a senior a greeting card, email or talking on the phone with them for 30 minutes a week can do wonders for their self-esteem. Teach your loved one how to use social media to stay connected with family or meet new friends with similar interests.
Seek Their Advice
Another way to make a loved one feel special is by seeking their advice. Ask dad to show you how to remodel your house, or find time to share some of mom’s favorite recipes while bonding in the kitchen together over a hot cup of coffee.
Bridge Generational Gaps
Older people are great sources of wisdom which they can then share with their grandchildren and great grandchildren. If your senior is of sound mind and body, see if they will watch the kids while you and your spouse enjoy a night out. When the kids have a school activity or ballgame, ask mom or dad to join you.
Consider Home Care
If you’re part of the Sandwich Generation, it can be hard to find enough time to perk up a loved one while juggling a household and job. Consider hiring a professional caregiver from a licensed home care agency. Not only will that benefit your senior, it will put your mind at ease too!
We’ll Put a Smile on Your Senior’s Face
When your aging in place senior could use some encouragement but you’re tied up or live far away, contact HomeChoice Home Care Solutions. As a licensed and insured home care agency, our compassionate caregivers know how to put a smile back on your senior’s face and keep them active. While serving as an extended family in your senior’s home, our well-trained caregivers use a unique approach that’s focused on improving quality of life so that your loved one can continue aging in place with dignity and independence.
In addition to companionship, our carefully screened aides can perform in-home duties like light housework, meals, personal hygiene, medication reminders and escorted transportation. And, all our home care services can be individually combined into an affordable package that’ll restore your peace of mind! To learn more about HomeChoice Home Care Solutions, or to schedule a FREE in-home consultation for your senior today, please call or visit us online today!