For some seniors who live at home by themselves, one of the biggest challenges they have to overcome is loneliness. According to a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) study, more than 40% of older adults who live alone will deal with issues of loneliness or isolation. The good news is there are ways to combat this, both as a senior and as a caregiver or family member.
At Comfort Home Care, we’re proud to offer a number of in-home care resources to help combat loneliness.
Why is loneliness a concern for both mental and physical well-being in a senior, and what can be done to help combat it?
Risks of Loneliness and Isolation for Seniors
Not only can loneliness and isolation have an impact on the mental health and mood of a person, but they can also play a role in certain physical issues as well. Loneliness may lead to a higher risk of several long-term concerns, including:
- High blood pressure or heart disease
- Limited cognitive function or significant cognitive decline
- Anxiety or depression
- Weakened immune system
- Increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Spotting Signs of Loneliness or Isolation
People who find a sudden change in their daily lives can be susceptible to loneliness and isolation. This could be the loss of a partner or close friendship, the loss of a job, the loss of mobility, and/or a decline in health.
Here are some signs that your loved one may be experiencing loneliness or isolation:
- Lack of communication: If your senior suddenly begins withdrawing from conversation or generally seems to be less interested in talking, it may be an indication that they’re feeling lonely and isolated.
- Changes in sleeping habits: An increase or decrease in the amount of sleep your senior is getting can also be linked to feelings of loneliness.
- Loss of interest in activities: If your senior suddenly stops participating in activities they once enjoyed, it may be a sign that they’re feeling lonely and no longer have the motivation to do things.
- Neglecting personal appearance: If your senior seems to be letting their personal appearance go, it could be another indication of loneliness or isolation taking hold.
Proactive Ways to Combat Senior Loneliness
Here are some simple, effective ways to help combat loneliness or isolation, whether you’re a senior dealing with these issues or a caregiver assisting them:
- Home care: One of the simplest and most effective ways to help your senior with loneliness is to provide them with some form of home care, whether from a family member or hiring a professional caregiver. This can help provide both practical and social support for your senior.
- Regular check-ins: Whether it’s making time for regular phone calls, visits, or even just dropping a card in the mail, maintaining regular communication and check-ins can help seniors feel more connected.
- Join social groups: There are a variety of social groups available for seniors – exercise classes, art classes, theater groups, and book clubs. Joining one of these groups can help provide some much-needed social interaction.
- Encourage hobbies: Pursuing a hobby can help take the focus off of feelings of loneliness and isolation, providing a creative outlet and a sense of purpose.
- Buy a pet: Pets can provide seniors with both companionship and a sense of responsibility, helping to stave off loneliness.
For more on how to combat loneliness and isolation in seniors, or for information on how our in-home care products benefit Rockville seniors in these and related areas, speak to our team at Comfort Home Care today.