Loneliness In Seniors: 5 Warning Signs To Look Out For And How To Help
Sadly, those who have been impacted by loneliness understand it as an unpleasant, painful, and difficult emotion. People are naturally prosocial, which means that our species desires social interaction, fulfillment in social roles, and group membership. Unfortunately, seniors are particularly vulnerable to loneliness for a multitude of reasons. The most serious is that they may experience the death of many loved ones as their age group grows older, including the loss of a spouse or life partner. For seniors, their entire social group is subject to profound change, which can leave the elderly isolated or unhappy.
Seniors may move around more frequently throughout their lives rather than living in the same place, which might cause them to feel distressed. Between the natural fluctuations in one's social life, grief and loss, and change, seniors face a high risk of feeling lonely. Luckily, spotting the signs of isolation can stop senior clients from falling into depression or poor mental health. Here are some signs and remedies for seniors and their loved ones to watch for:
5 Signs of Loneliness in Seniors
1. Your Senior Loved One Recently Experienced a Loss
The signs of loneliness in seniors are most present in those who have experienced a close loss or death within their immediate family or friend group. These individuals will experience grief, no matter how it presents itself. For seniors coping with major losses like a spouse or extremely close friend, they may require therapy and need increased attention to their mental health. These seniors are the most susceptible to feeling natural yet extremely painful emotions and difficulty in their daily routine. For these seniors, seek professional help and monitor them when possible.
2. The Senior Recently Moved
Some seniors may have moved into a retirement community or downsized into more comfortable quarters, which often causes uneasiness. When a senior live in a familiar neighborhood or the same place for many years, then they might miss their old home. In order to help these seniors, they will need a lot of encouragement. While the transition might be difficult, the cure for situational loneliness in seniors is to prompt them to join groups in their area, community events, or other social organizations. Many seniors will find that new friends can't replace their old neighborhood but that it helps them stave off loneliness, boredom, and destructive habits.
3. The Senior Has Reduced Mobility
While the National Institute of Health released data that correlates health issues like high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and heart disease with loneliness, the opposite can also apply. Seniors who face major health struggles may encounter loneliness during the recovery process or while living with a chronic condition. For these clients, remember to bring social opportunities to them, whether it's through visitors, volunteers, or connecting them to social media. It's important to avoid isolation due to illness and keep these senior clients from avoiding family and friends. Otherwise, it may be more difficult for them to resume socializing at a later date.
4. The Senior Has Expressed Sorrow
When your senior loved one articulates feelings of loneliness, don't brush it off. Take some time to pay attention to them, or get them involved in a social group. If you live far away, try to visit or get in touch with them through technological means. Try to see if those close to them can check up on them. When a senior has been vocal about loneliness, consider getting them a pet, signing them up for classes, or telling their care team about it.
5. Senior Clients Seem Restless and/ or Agitated
There are many behavioral clues that show a senior is grappling with loneliness in seniors, such as increased frustration, agitation, or pronounced wandering. A senior may experience loneliness in a way that isn't explicit sadness and manifests as restless patterns. The time they used to spend socializing might now be periods of free time where they don't know what to do with themselves. For a senior like this, try to get them to follow a routine and be involved in regular group activities. Some seniors benefit from staying busy.
About Senior Helpers Bryan-College Station
In addition to helping seniors with chronic care and conditions, Senior Helpers Bryan-College Station is happy to guide families with their senior loved ones' mental health needs in Conroe, Huntsville, Livingston, and Montgomery. Contact us for more advice about how to handle the emotional needs of a senior loved one.