Avoiding loneliness as we get older
What’s kind of sad is that despite the hugely popular use of social media, we live in a time where loneliness can be a real issue. This can especially be the case for older aged people. The worrying thing is that not only are feelings of loneliness unpleasant to experience. But isolation can be detrimental to your physical and mental health.
There is research to suggest that loneliness increases the risk of health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, and provides a higher risk of death. Loneliness is also linked to depression, plus cognitive decline and dementia.
Loneliness is definitely a concern. But preventing loneliness and isolation in older populations can be more challenging. Many older people end up living alone and isolated. This is due to the passing of their spouses, family, and friends. Many find it harder to get out and about to socialise. Even for short journeys, as their physical and / or mental health might be beginning to decline. And often older people don’t have someone there to offer any help. They struggle alone during times of illness too.
Tackling loneliness can be tricky. Often if someone is isolated, they aren’t always open to asking for help. And if a person is withdrawn, then others around them won’t be aware that they are lonely.
A good way to address loneliness is by being mindful of your neighbours and those within your community. Especially if they are older in age. Even just taking five minutes to have a chat, and asking if they would like a hand with anything. It can make a big difference. Keep in mind that for some people who are truly isolated, your little chat with them might be the first social interaction they have had with anyone in a long time!
It is quite common behaviour for those who are lonely, including older people, to not want to be a burden to others. They often might “hide” their loneliness. So sometimes you must be mindful in the way you approach them when offering to help. Inviting them casually to social gatherings and occasions can be a way to overcome this barrier.
You might want to offer to take your aging family member or friend to:
- Coffee mornings
- Book reading clubs
- Learn a new skill or hobby
- Play cards
- Exercise classes
- The park
There are many possibilities to help expand their social network. Of course, these are all things that can be arranged by us here at Kells Domiciliary Care. You might also want to arrange for one of our kind friendly carers to regularly make social visits. We can check up on your loved one, socialise with them, and provide any home help too.
If you would like to chat about how we can tailor our home care services to meet your specific needs, please get in touch!
020 8886 6589
348 Green Lanes, London N13 5TJ
Cacioppo JT, Hughes ME, Waite LJ, Hawkley LC, Thisted RA. 2006. Loneliness as a specific risk factor for depressive symptoms: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Psychology and Aging21 (1) pp. 140-51. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16594799
Hawkley LC, Thisted RA, Masi CM, Cacioppo JT. 2010. Loneliness predicts increased blood pressure: 5-year cross-lagged analyses in middle-aged and older adults. Psychology and Aging 25 (1) pp.132-41 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20230134
Holt-Lunstad J, TB, Layton JB. 2010. Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS Medicine 7 (7) http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000316
Holwerda, T. J. Deeg, D., Beekman, A. van Tilburg, T.G., Stek, M.L., Jonker, C., and Schoevers, R. 2012. Research paper: Feelings of loneliness, but not social isolation, predict dementia onset: results from the Amsterdam Study of the Elderly (AMSTEL) Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry http://jnnp.bmj.com/content/early/2012/11/06/jnnp-2012-302755