A national survey conducted by the AARP estimates that one in three American adults, above the age of 45 experience strong feelings of loneliness.
That’s almost 48 million lonely adults. So what causes this feeling? And what steps can we take towards helping the elderly feel less alone?
Aging can often take a toll on an individual’s mental state, but this is often overshadowed by the emphasis on physical health. However, on the plus side, you don’t need to be a professional to lend a helping hand to someone you feel is slipping into isolation.
Here are five things that can help steer older people away from loneliness.
1. Befriending an Animal
If the individual in question likes animals, a furry (or not so furry) mate might be a great idea. Animals like cats and dogs have been helping people lead healthier, happier lives for years!
Not only will they feel a sense of responsibility towards their pet, but they will also enjoy the warm companionship of another living creature.
2. Finding a New Sense of Purpose
A lot of people lose their ambition as they age, not because they don’t want it, but because they don’t feel capable of pursuing it. Let them know that it is never too late to find a fresh new sense of purpose.
Perhaps they’ve always loved painting but never had the time to pursue it. Maybe they want to try their hand at writing. Or maybe they like to sew. It’s never too late to revive an old hobby, contribute to a cause or pursue a whole new one altogether!
3. Help Them Feel Needed
Given that they often need more care than the average person, it is common for the elderly to feel like burdens to their loved ones. This, in turn, may lead to them not asking for help when they need it, or stir feelings of sadness or depression within them.
A few ways to make them feel wanted is by asking them for advice (you don’t necessarily have to take it!) or letting them assist you in simple chores. Additionally, if they’re particularly skilled at something like playing an instrument or at a language they could also consider tutoring young children.
4. Finding Joy in Community
If someone is slipping into isolation, it might take a community to bring them back. A subtle way to help them engage with their community is to pair it with something they enjoy. For example, if they like reading, perhaps they can join a book club. If they like sports, perhaps they can engage in some low impact sports at the local sports clubs.
Additionally, there are several senior centers for continuing care like Rowntree Gardens Senior Living that create a great environment with the appropriate facilities for seniors where they get the care they deserve, within a community of their own.
Helping the Elderly: A Simple Gesture Can Go a Long Way
More often than not, they feel like they just aren’t interesting enough, or feel like a waste of space. Sometimes all they need is a listening ear to restore their faith in the world. Pay attention, ask questions and express a genuine interest in what they’re saying.
Helping the elderly feel less lonely doesn’t take a series of grand gestures; an occasional heartfelt chat will go a long way too!
Want more insight into the life of a senior? Check out our articles on Senior Wellness Tips, Retirement Plans and tons more across our blog!