Loneliness is a big issue for many seniors. People who used to be active and busy with work and raising a family now look for things to keep them occupied. In addition, if they have issues with mobility, they may be partially housebound and this can cause the loneliness feelings to increase.
Everyone experiences the feeling of loneliness at some point in their lives. However, for seniors this can cause a serious health concern. When they lose friends and even a spouse, they may feel they have no one to lean on for emotional support. They keep their feelings inside and develop depression, which can lead to other health issues such as not eating and/or not sleeping well. Their health can continue to decline and ultimately lead to death. Social interaction is not just nice for seniors to have, it is a necessity.
How to keep seniors from feeling lonely when they no longer have a structured routine? Here are some tips to help.
For Those with Good Mobility
Seniors who can still get around have several opportunities to meet new people and interact with others. Often the reason they do not get out more is because it makes them uncomfortable to be in new situations. However, it is important to make the effort to develop new relationships. If you are caring for a senior family member, you can encourage them to try these suggestions and even go with them for support.
- Volunteer with an organization – You can find many charities and groups that can use any helping hand. For example: help out with a food pantry, read to kids in school or assist at a consignment shop. All of these opportunities provide interaction with different people.
- Visit a senior center and find out about their activities. They often have meetings and gatherings such as dances or dinners where you can meet others.
- Join a book club or a gardening club, or any other hobby that you are interested in. You can often find out about these events in the community section of your local newspaper.
- Learn a new hobby – If you wanted to learn something but never had the time before, you can find a class that teaches it.
For Those with Limited Mobility
It is difficult to maintain social connections for seniors who need help to get around, cannot drive anywhere on their own and are confined to their home most of the time due to health conditions.
However, as difficult as this situation is, seniors can find ways to interact with others. Here are a few suggestions:
- Bring people to you – Invite others who are still able to get out of their house to come to your home. You can plan a simple get-together with old friends and catch up on your lives. Caregivers can assist with the planning and even contact the people you would like to invite over.
- Meet people online – If you do not know how to use social media, ask someone to show you. A family member can teach you how to create an account on Facebook or find other sites dedicated to older people.
- Get email addresses of your friends and long-distance family. Often it is easier to keep in touch through email than on the phone.
- Get a pet – While it is not the same as human companionship, a pet can help alleviate loneliness. For those who can get outside, a dog can also provide a reason to get exercise, making them the perfect companion. If you are not able to leave the home, you can get a cat or even a bird. Caregivers can help with their care if you have limited mobility.
- Find out if you can do volunteer work at home. Some charities need people to do handwork from home for gifts while others need people willing to make calls.
Once you begin thinking about ways to meet people, you will be able to come up with more ideas. You can even ask your family or friends to let you know if they hear about any opportunities for seniors to meet new people. It can take some effort, especially if you are homebound, but you can find ways to meet new people.
At Carefect Homecare Services, we understand the importance of friendships for seniors to prevent loneliness. Sometimes just having a regular caregiver to look forward to seeing can help brighten a senior’s day. Our caregivers can take your loved one to activities where they can meet people their own age. Our caregivers spend time with your loved one to provide them with the interaction they need to stay healthy.