Feeling Isolated? 10 Ways To Combat Loneliness When Youre A Senior Citizen
Loneliness. Feeling lonely and isolated? Do you often find yourself going for days without meaningful social interaction no one to share your thoughts with or just talk to? Youre not alone.
More and more seniors are finding themselves in this predicament as life expectancy increases. The social connections we previously enjoyed as schoolmates, work colleagues, and parents continue to dry up as we grow older.
And for those whore unfortunate enough to outlive their spouses, the feeling of isolation can become a life-crushing void. How do you cope and adjust to living in the new normal if its even possible? Read on to find out.
About 30% percent of senior residents countrywide are reported to live in one-person households. While living alone doesnt necessarily equate to loneliness, the two often go hand-in-hand. Such individuals tend to live far away from close family, and thus have a hard time maintaining consistent contact. Mobility challenges resulting from age-related ailments further make it difficult to keep in touch with friends and the local community. Rural residents are particularly vulnerable to this kind of isolation.
Seniors who still have their partner around dont always fare better. Even for those whore able to get out and socialize, opportunities to do so will inevitably shrink as friends move, fall ill, or even pass away. Spousal bereavement is yet another factor that aggravates isolation. The passing of your life companion aside, its likely that youll lose key friendships in weeks and months to come. Social invitations also tend to be scarcer for widows and widowers. Effectively, it gets to a point where you feel like youre alone in the world.
How Seniors Can Overcome Loneliness and Social Isolation
We know too well that social isolation isnt conducive for our wellbeing, particularly in our sunset years. Loneliness not only affects physical and mental health, but it also makes seniors susceptible to being taken advantage of. Its thus in your best interest to start taking steps to adjust to the new status quo find ways to cope with the losses and overcome the feeling of isolation, specifically.
Our parents constantly told us to stay strong in the face of adversity, and were naturally hard-wired to keep our weaknesses/vulnerabilities under wraps. Being isolated, especially as a result of widowhood, also carries certain stigmas. Or at least thats what most bereaved spouses tell themselves. One imagines that if they were to open up, it would only make others not want to interact with them.
Its this misconception that often leaves widows and widowers wallowing in loneliness. When you act like everythings normal, few people will go out of their way to check on you. And while keeping a strong face can help you cope with the loss to some extent, itll only take you so far.
So dont be afraid to open up. Tell your trusted friends and relatives what youre going through and that you could use their company. Theyll be more than happy to help. Having someone to talk to every once in a while will make a huge difference.
Its easy to be stuck in a quagmire of self-critical thoughts when youre alone. Without someone to talk to, you start wondering whether other people can actually see something likable in you. How do you keep such doubts from overpowering your mind? By constantly practicing positive affirmations. Find inspirational books, quotes, and music to help you let go of destructive thoughts.
Remind yourself that no situation is ever permanent. Its possible to find joy and happiness once again despite the loss(es) youve suffered. Cultivating such a positive outlook will help you overcome the grief, and gradually learn to live again.
Yes, being socially active takes effort. Youve got to get out, meet people, and make new friends. And you cant always count on others social invites to make that happen. At times, you will need to act as your own advocate for staving off isolation.
Start checking up on old acquaintances. Explore places youve thought of visiting in the past but never got around to. See if theres anyone whod be interested in sharing some time with you; over a cup of coffee or just a walk down the local park. This might feel like youre launching yourself outside your comfort zone, but the interactions will go a long way.
Be a Good Friend
Its easy to focus too much on what weve lost and forgotten what we already have. Can you remember the last time when you checked up on your pals? They too might be feeling lonely; isolation affects even those who still seem to have social support in place, as highlighted earlier.
Make effort to keep tabs with your old friends no matter how few, or how far away you are from each other. Lend an attentive ear as they talk and see if theres anything you could do to help. When you prioritize the needs of others, it gives them an incentive to go out of their way to meet yours. This is crucial to maintaining your key relationships.
Volunteer in the Community
Retirement left you with more time on your hands than you know what to do with.
Why not channel this spare time into supporting a good cause? Volunteering can be a very powerful way to deal with isolation, particularly if you were recently bereaved.
On the one hand, it provides an active distraction from the emotional pain of grief. Youre no longer spending hours preoccupied with the loss, imagining what life wouldve been like if your partner was still around. Instead, this energy is channeled towards making a meaningful contribution to society.
Volunteering will also bring a plethora of opportunities to connect and socialize. Youll meet lots of like-minded people across a wide range of demographics, trade stories, and experiences, and consequently, build positive relationships with them.
Therere lots of places that could use a helping hand: hospitals, hospices, schools, community centers, and support helplines just to name but a few. Look out for ones where youll be able to utilize your skills to the fullest extent.
Take a Class
Hey! Its never too late to learn something new. Studies indicate that seniors who challenge themselves this way tend to fare better regarding brain health. And of course, enrolling in a class is a fantastic way to meet people and make new friends.
Take a look at the local educational options and see if theres something that suits you. It could be a part-time course at the local community college, an academic subject that fascinates you, or perhaps even a craft youve been wanting to learn over the years. Feel free to take advantage of senior discounts wherever and whenever available!
Join a Local Activity Group
If youre more interested in pleasure than learning, joining an activity group might just do the trick. See if there are any local forums centered around your preferred hobbies; gardening, reading, watching movies, traveling, etc. Get in touch with them and express your interest to join.
Taking part in such an activity group is pretty much the perfect way to put yourself out there. Not only do you get to meet people with whom you share interests, but you also become a more interesting friend yourself once you start having fun. And thats just what your social life needs right now.
Or an Exercise Class
Consider taking up an exercise class as you look out for pastimes. Yoga, swimming, walking, jogging, dance are all perfect; youll meet plenty of other seniors looking out for opportunities to interact. And did we mention that working out is good for your health, and a great stress reliever too? It basically gives you more energy to get out there and put your social life back on track.
Attend Local Events
This is yet another great way to get yourself out there where all the people are. Look out for festivals, film screenings, senior-friendly concerts, and other similar events. Putting yourself in such circles makes you more visible to potential mates. And once again, you have a whole days worth of fanfare to ward off the feeling of despair resulting from loss.
Granted, attending such events from time to time isnt easy when youre a senior citizen. Perhaps you could use someone to help you find the energy and enthusiasm. This brings us to the next point
Get a Home Care Aide
This might just be the best thing you could ever do, not just for the sake of your social life, but also for your wellbeing. A personal care aide will help you out with some of the responsibilities that might seem overwhelming; household chores, cleaning, cooking, and such. This makes senior living much more tolerable, and it no longer seems like the demise of your loved one left you to do everything by yourself.
More crucially, though, a home care aide will provide the close companionship that you were suddenly deprived of. Theyll also help you take advantage of the aforementioned opportunities to socialize.
For seniors in South Florida you can find out more about home care services by calling:Boca Home Care Services(Broward and Palm Beach Counties) at (561) 989-0611Miami Home Care Services(Miami Dade) at (305)749-0445
These are home care registries that match seniors with screened, certified and compassionate home care aides who can provide the assistance you need to live a safe and independent life as you happily age well.
Get in touch with us and well customize a care plan that perfectly suits your needs.