Nearly half of all older Americans experience a feeling of isolation and loneliness regularly, significantly impacting their overall health and longevity.
The effect of ongoing loneliness in senior citizens is comparable to chronic stress. It actually raises the levels of cortisol in the body, lowering immunity to physical and mental illness.
Why do seniors isolate themselves
- They may be self-conscious because of a physical impairment, such as using a walker or being hard of hearing, or fear of incontinence.
- They may pass up opportunities to socialize because they do not feel confident driving, especially in the evenings.
- Or, as their friends move away or pass on, they may simply feel they don’t have anyone to spend time with.
Can technology be part the answer
In this age in which we are accused of spending too much time on social media, it is difficult to believe that the generation above us suffers from chronic loneliness and depression. The good news is that, with all types of technology at our fingertips, it is easy to combat isolation and loneliness.
Cell Phone or Tablet
A phone call or Facetime conversation is no substitute for real face-to-face communication, but it is better than nothing. Furthermore, that phone or tablet is full of other capabilities. Don’t use it just for phone calls when it can be a valuable tool to help alleviate loneliness. Download music that she likes — or might learn to like — in a playlist. Online games such as Words with Friends or Chess with Friends offer mental stimulation and the opportunity to interact with online opponents. You can also easily find directories of clubs, events and classes that you can participate in together or arrange for your parent to take part in.
Puzzles, Games and Cards
When you see somebody working a puzzle or playing a game, it’s hard to fight the urge to join in. Especially if your parent lives in an elder care community, make sure he prioritizes this type of activity. You’ll be surprised at the relationships that form.
Reflection and Meditation
On the surface, personal reflection and meditation seem like activities that invite loneliness, not deter it. In actuality, quite the opposite is true. When a person takes the time to reflect and record positive memories, either in writing, on a computer or with a recording device (also available on phones and tablets), she becomes more mindful and grateful. Mindfulness and gratitude, in turn, boost serotonin — the happy brain chemical — and help to reduce overwhelming feelings of isolation and depression.
Loneliness comes with life and no one can avoid it altogether. But, when loneliness becomes life we must work to combat it. All together.
Waterford Ladies Home has been in business for years, and we are here to help in any way possible. Contact us today or schedule a tour today!