Are you concerned that your aging loved ones are feeling the effects of loneliness? Have there been recent major changes in their lives? Have you noticed a decline in their mental or physical health? Although loneliness is a serious problem among elderly people, there are tips and techniques to use to help combat feelings of loneliness.
But first, you need to be aware of certain warning signs of loneliness in seniors.
1. Lack of appetite
Loneliness can cause changes in people’s eating habits, including loss of appetite. Also, “losing” a taste for food can be common among the elderly if they are suffering from feelings of loneliness.
2. Restlessness at night
Loneliness can also affect your sleeping habits, often causing insomnia. Whether you’re oversleeping or have feelings of restlessness during the night, changes in your sleep patterns can cause anxiety and frustration.
3. Loss of driving ability
As we age, our ability to drive is affected. Response times are slower and problems with vision make it more difficult to drive safely. If your elderly loved one is no longer able to drive, they may feel lonely by losing their social connections.
4. Increased spending habits
Have you noticed that your elderly parent has increased their spending habits, buying things excessively? This is most often associated with being lonely due to boredom or lack of social connections.
5. Recent loss of friends/ neighbors
Losing companionship can create a longing for the past. If your loved one has recently had close friends that moved away or changes in their neighborhood with new neighbors, that can cause feelings of loneliness.
6. Increase in showers or bath/ longer time bathing
Have you ever had the need for a warm bath or shower? Warmth is often linked to connection. Believe it or not, taking a warm bath or a longer shower can create a feeling of a social connection.
7. Mobility issues
Does your elderly loved one use a walker or have mobility issues? Finding it more difficult to move around can cause an elderly person to not want to socialize or attend events. This lack of socialization can lead to feeling lonely.
8. Increased time spent at home
Do you know someone who wants to spend more time at home and away from family events? Not wanting to be around others, especially friends and family is a warning sign that they could be suffering from loneliness.
9. Changes in call patterns
When seniors feel lonely, you might notice a change in their call pattern. Some may call more often than usual, wanting to feel better connected. Others, however, may reduce the frequency of phone calls as a way to stay disconnected.
10. Friends are lonely as well
You know the phrase “misery loves company”? Much like yawning, loneliness is contagious. If a friend, relative, or coworker has been talking about feeling lonely, more than likely you will start to feel lonely as well.
During the late 80s to early 90s, the television series, The Golden Girls, captivated audiences by focusing on four single elderly women who shared a home and the comedy, support, companionship, and friendship that ensued. So, what can you do if you have an elderly loved one who is experiencing feelings of loneliness? Primarily, having support and social interaction can help alleviate those feelings. Understand their situation so you know how best to help. Help your loved one start a new hobby. Are they an avid book reader? Find a local book club that they can join and meet new people. There are often community groups that help bring together those with similar interests. This is a great way to make new friends and reconnect with old ones! If your loved one’s friends moved away or their family members are unable to visit, use technology such as a computer, phone, or iPad to help them stay connected. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology can keep the elderly engaged with loved ones while still social distancing and staying safe.