It’s very sad to think about, but elders, unfortunately, deal with a lot of loneliness. Loneliness tends to be a major problem, not just for the elderly who live alone but also those in nursing homes. As a son, nephew, or grandson, you have to do what you can to help your aging loved one out. Loneliness can be painful, and it only gets worse with age.
This pattern of loneliness is something that can develop in one's 40s and 50s as you begin to start losing parents and older friends who you've depended on for sage advice or just a friendly voice that you could reach out to. Unfortunately, this continues to get worse as we age since it is no longer just those above you - but your peers as well. In fact, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine - more than 35% of adults aged 45+ feel lonely and a full 24% of community-dwelling older adults are considered socially isolated.
This is more than just "feeling sad", it can have the impact of dementia developing early as well as other situations that can cause your loved one’s health to decline more quickly. So, what can you do to stop this? Well, it’s going to be about helping them fight this loneliness. Here are a few ways that you can help your aging loved ones fight loneliness.
Take The Time To Listen
Taking the time to listen is one of the most basic needs of human beings. It's vital to forming meaningful relationships with others and building close, personal connections. Oftentimes, the elderly feel as if they’re not being listened to. It can be quite heartbreaking, especially if your aging parent, grandparent, or whoever feels this way. Make sure you listen and tell your family that your aging loved one doesn’t feel as if they’re being listened to.
Take Up A New Hobby
One way to help your elderly loved one not feel so lonely is to encourage them to pick up a new hobby. This can help keep their brain active and give them something to look forward to each day. It’s vital to fight dementia, and this could very well make your senior's life feel a little easier. A hobby can be anything from learning to knit or playing a musical instrument to coloring in or even starting a small window garden. Hobbies for the elderly can be a great way to make friends and give seniors something to do that is fun, meaningful, and socially engaging.
So it’s going to be so important they do something to keep their brain sharp. It’s also a great idea to find a group or club related to the hobby your senior loved one is interested in, if possible. This can give them a chance they need to meet new people, learn new skills, and also get feedback on progress. A lot of senior homes offer this, so if your loved one is in a nursing home, make sure to look into this.
Consider Getting Them A Pet
This may not work, especially if they’re in a nursing home. But, if your aging loved one life alone in their house or a pet-friendly apartment, then you can count on this being ideal. Pets are a great way to make a senior feel less lonely. Not only do they provide emotional support, but they also help lower blood pressure and improve mood.
Usually, a dog or cat would be the most popular animal kept as a pet, but many other types could be an option for your loved one. You need to consider how mobile they are and their lifestyle. Choosing the right pet for your elderly loved one will depend on their health and living conditions. For example, a dog or cat may not be a good fit if they have limited mobility or are housebound. Make sure to talk to them, and don’t surprise them with any pets.
Take Them Out
All of these little gestures are meaningful and can truly amount to something. They’re going to look back on these memories of you taking them out, and you’re going to do the same. Taking your elderly loved one out can be a fantastic way to lift their spirits and give them a sense of social connection.
This is especially important if you live far away or have been unable to visit in person very often. Make sure you try to take your loved one out on a regular basis to enjoy the sun, fresh air, and exercise. Even something as simple as a walk in the park can help your loved one feel less lonely and more energized.
Encourage Them To Take A Class Or Seminar
As the senior in your life grows older, it can be easy to fall into a routine that can eventually dull their spirit and make them feel lonely. However, various stimulating activities can help your elderly loved one maintain their mental health and zest for life. Learning something new is an excellent way to keep your elderly loved one mentally sharp, whether it’s a new skill they are already familiar with or a completely new subject.
Start by suggesting they take a class at their local community center or college or look into online courses. It’s actually far more common than you may think! Many elders will go back to school or take local classes, and the goal is to keep busy. Taking a class is also ideal for your elderly loved one to meet people of similar ages and interests, which can help them connect with other seniors in their community. Consider a seminar or workshop on something that would be beneficial for them, such as will-writing or financial management.
Get Help To Fight Loneliness And Depression
Loneliness can cause many physical and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. Plus, elderly people need to keep their brains stimulated to else they could face the risk of dementia. If you suspect your elderly loved one is feeling lonely, get them the help they need. Seniors can be especially vulnerable to loneliness when they have friends and family who move away or pass away.
Creating relationships with others who are also going through similar situations can be a great way to combat loneliness and isolation. This may mean you or other loved ones will need to visit them more often. Sometimes, there might be other reasons why the elderly become more reclusive such as abuse; in times like this, it’s vital to contact the Nursing Home Abuse Center to get help on the matter.