Loneliness and social isolation are growing concerns for people in the United States. Even though loneliness affects people of all ages, no one feels it more than older adults. Research shows that chronic loneliness can affect a person’s memory, well-being, mental health and life expectancy. If you are concerned about a loved one, it’s important to understand why they feel lonely and ways you can help.
Why Older Adults Experience Social Isolation
There are a number of reasons why your loved one may be feeling lonely and isolated. One of the most common causes of loneliness is a dwindling social circle. It’s normal for friends and family to move away or pass away over the years. Your loved one may not even know their neighbors anymore.
It’s also possible that your loved one feels limited by their mobility and health. They may not be able to get around well because of an illness, side effects from a medication or a hearing or vision problem. You may also find that your loved one feels embarrassed due to incontinence issues or memory loss. This can make it difficult for them to engage with others.
As you can see, there are a number of issues that can leave an older adult feeling lonely and isolated. However, although common, social isolation shouldn’t be viewed as a normal part of aging. Research continually shows that senior isolation increases the risk for heart attacks, stroke, depression, anxiety and early death. Stepping in and offering your loved one some solutions can make a difference in their physical and emotional health.
How to Alleviate Senior Isolation
If your loved one is showing signs of loneliness, there are some ways you can improve their quality of life. Before making any changes in their schedule, be sure to take them to the doctor to rule out any underlying health conditions.
Here are some ways to alleviate senior isolation.
- Introduce new hobbies. Hobbies don’t just pass the time and prevent boredom, they make people happy to wake up in the morning. Introduce your loved one to various activities and hobbies such as knitting, dancing or singing.
- Offer technology and other resources. There are a number of gadgets that can make your loved one feel more comfortable at home alone. These include home assistants like Alexa, weighted blankets and light therapy.
- Adopt a pet. If your loved one is in a position to care for a pet, this new family member can add purpose to their life. It doesn’t have to be a dog – seniors benefit just as much from birds, cats and rabbits.
- Family and friend support. Arrange a schedule where friends and family visit each week. If everyone takes just a couple days a month, it will fill out your loved one’s schedule and give them something to look forward to.
- Hire a companion. If you need outside help, hire a home health aide in NJ who can visit your loved one during the week. These companions break up long days, provide transportation, do light household chores, and most importantly, provide friendship to those in need.
Senior isolation is more than an inconvenience. It’s something that can affect your loved one’s physical health and quality of life. To learn more about senior home care in NJ from VNA Health Group, contact us today.