According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11 million people aged 65 and older lived alone in 2014. Many senior citizens have children who live very far away, or perhaps have no family at all. Losing a spouse can be painful, especially to the surviving spouse of couples who were very close and did everything together.
Studies have shown that socially isolated elders are twice as likely to die prematurely. The older someone is, the less mobile they may be, which makes it challenging to be socially active.
Loneliness can lead to other, more serious illnesses or disorders, such as depression, overeating or drinking too much.
Everyone has different definitions of loneliness. There are people who enjoy some “alone time” to read, to meditate and to relax. And there are others who must be in the company of other people at all times. Once you recognize where you are on this spectrum, you can plan your activities or plan for the care of a loved one, accordingly. Seniors who enjoy the company of others, and benefit from good health, may enjoy living in an independent living community.
Elderly loneliness solutions:
Encourage your elder family members to combat loneliness and have a socially active life by following these tips:
- Play card games with friends and neighbors, such as bridge or rummy. They are fun, and the cognitive skills required to play these games may help prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Try active outdoor games, such as bocce ball, croquet, or shuffleboard. Independent living communities usually offer these activities. The benefits are multi-fold, you get fresh air and exercise, social interaction, and stress relief.
- Volunteer at a nearby organization or animal shelter. It’s a good way to make new friends while helping others.
- Adopt a dog or cat from an animal shelter. Taking care of pets is therapeutic and has been proven to lower anxiety and blood pressure, boost memory and provide an overall feeling of well-being.
- Join a book club to meet new people, get intellectual stimulation and entertainment. Also, you get exposure to books that you may not normally select, but discover that you enjoy.
- Become active in your local church or place of worship. In addition to the spiritual aspect of a church membership, you may also benefit from activities sponsored by the church community.