The Do's and Don't's of Bringing Up the Health Concerns of Loneliness for Seniors
In the words of John Donne, no man is an island. Every human being has a natural need to belong to a community to bond and thrive regardless of age. However, that doesn't always happen to the senior citizens in Chicago, IL. Loneliness is common, that 28% of seniors live alone, and nearly 25% are categorized as socially isolated and lonely.
Effects of Loneliness for Seniors in Chicago, IL
A combination of factors, such as the passing of a partner or family member, divorce, aging, disability, and personality traits, such as introversion, can contribute to loneliness and isolation. While a universal emotion, the elderly are particularly vulnerable to loneliness.
As a result, they suffer from;
- Several health risks, such as depression, cardiovascular disorders, Alzheimer's and dementia progression, reduced cognitive functions, declining memory, anti-social traits, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts
- Premature aging since they don't exercise much
- None existent or poor-quality social networks and relationships
- Increased mortality rates and shorter life spans
- Diminished quality of life
- The increased economic burden on the society
How to Bring up the Health Concerns of Loneliness
Loneliness and isolation might be sore even to the elderly loved one going through it. Therefore, you must find the right approach that won't cause more damage. While every case is unique, some top tips include:
DO Find the Right Time
Like any other delicate subject, it's best to discuss loneliness at the right time and place. So, instead of talking about it before bedtime, for instance, find an appropriate time. Indulge the senior in an activity such as crafting, exercising, or dinner when they'll feel relaxed and comfortable enough to listen to you and open up.
DO Let Them Set the Tone for the Discussion
If you bring up loneliness, make sure it's something they want to talk about. Don't make it the first or the last topic of conversation. When they are ready to listen and open up, follow their cue. While you can ask questions to keep the conversation going, ensure you stay within what they say.
DO Be Prepared to Listen
It's understandable why the elderly might be hesitant to talk about their loneliness and why they are isolated. However, when they do talk about it, be ready to listen. Ask some questions to get them to talk more and try to understand their feelings and experiences.
DON'T Push for Details
Don't push for details of their social life or love life beyond what they choose to share.
It's important to remember that the elderly are often shy about sharing personal information, especially if it involves a partner or children. While you may want to know more about this aspect of their lives, it's best not to ask directly. When they are comfortable, they'll share more.
DON'T Make It the First Topic of Conversation
While the senior citizen's health conditions and loneliness might be concerning to you, avoid making it the first topic of conversation. Instead, wait until they are comfortable with you to have a deeper discussion about it. If you fail to wait, they may feel like you're prying, leading them on a tangent from which there's no easy way back. If they are open-minded about it, well and good; if not, exercise restraint.
DON'T Make It About You
It's common to sway the conversation to your side and make it about you. While you understand what the elderly person is going through, avoid hogging or making the conversation about you. However, you can share your experiences with loneliness as a way to connect and share.
Eliminate Loneliness for Your Seniors With Senior Helpers of Chicago, IL
Loneliness among senior citizens in Chicago, IL, is a delicate subject. Numerous studies have determined the best way to approach this subject. However, it comes down to how you approach it, as each case is unique. At Senior Helpers, we provide companionship to your senior loved ones to ensure they aren't socially isolated for longer and healthier life. To know about us, contact us today.