Care for Elders Living with Loneliness
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 28 percent of senior citizens ages 65 and older are living in isolation, separated from friends, family and loved ones. The longer a senior lives, the more likely it is that they will face the possibility of living on their own.
Evidence shows that there are a number of dangers and negative consequences from elderly loneliness and isolation, including increased risks for cognitive decline, dementia, physical health problems and mortality. Caring for our aging loved ones includes helping them maintain social contact and enjoy the company of others. Learning the signs of loneliness in older adults and knowing what to do about it will help you give your parents or aging loved ones the very best care in their later years.
Identifying Causes and Symptoms of Senior Loneliness and Isolation
Seniors who live alone or in environments where they have little contact with close friends are at risk for loneliness. If your parent lives alone, contacts family and friends infrequently, cannot use modern technology (email, Skype, etc.) and does not have family living in the immediate vicinity, they are at risk for feeling isolated and lonely.
The best way to discern signs of loneliness is to use your eyes and ears. If a parent stops participating in his or her regular activities, stops caring for themselves, such as not changing clothes or bathing, or just seems sad and tired, and health issues have been ruled out, your parent could be suffering from the depression of loneliness.
Sometimes, listening to them is the clue. Encourage your parents to talk to you so you can find out how they are doing while also learning whether they are staying socially active. The aging parent may voice frustration about missing certain people or certain favorite activities. If this is a recurring theme and they rarely speak positively about their situation, then these may be signs of distress caused by loneliness and isolation.
How to Help Seniors Dealing with Loneliness
If you suspect your parent is lonely, there are several steps you can take to help them.
Share. Encourage your parent to open up to you. Get them to share their passions and their life experiences. Letting them share their life story will be therapeutic for your parent and will enrich your bond and understanding of one another. Many children of aging parents say these elder years are when they learn the most valuable information about family history and stories that they treasure forever and now are able to pass on to their children as well.
Help them stay active. For seniors who are still able to live active lives, helping them get involved again will help remove the isolation that causes loneliness. Some things you can suggest and help them get involved with are:
- Join an interest group or take a class
- Find a roommate or move to a senior living complex with people their own age
- Get into social media so they can communicate with friends and grandchildren
- Learn the local transit system if they can no longer drive themselves
Get help. Unfortunately, many elderly parents are no longer able to get out and do things on their own. If their mobility is limited due to physical frailty, memory loss or other issues, isolation adds to loneliness and may lead to depression and health decline. Many grown children are working adults, often with young children at home. They are unable to spend enough time with their parent to really make a difference. For these situations, supplementing family care with affordable elderly home care services can fill the gap and provide both care and companionship.
Seek Affordable Companion and Elder Care Services
At Acti-Kare, we believe seniors deserve companion care that is personal and affordable. When you can’t be with your parent, a companion or home caregiver can fill the gap. Caregivers can provide companionship and conversation while also helping seniors with activities such as meals, grooming, household chores and errands. Our elderly care services are affordable and flexible. They’re available whether the client lives in an assisted living situation or in their own home. Our professional staff is screened, experienced and trained to work with seniors in many situations. A home companion caregiver can help your loved one leave senior loneliness behind and enjoy life once again.