Loneliness is a common feeling among seniors. There are many reasons why seniors may feel lonely, such as retirement, the death of a spouse or friend, and health problems.
While loneliness can be difficult to cope with, there are ways seniors can overcome loneliness.
Loneliness is a complex and often misunderstood emotion. Experiencing feelings of loneliness is not an indicator of poor mental health; rather, it is a common and normal emotion that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. However, for older adults, loneliness can have significant effects on mental and physical health.
Loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of mortality in older adults. A study published in the journal PLOS Medicine found that social isolation and loneliness were associated with a 26% increased risk of death over the six-year study period.
The study also found that these effects were even more pronounced in individuals who lived alone. While the mechanisms underlying this relationship are not fully understood, it is clear that social isolation and loneliness can have serious consequences for older adults’ health.
In addition to increased mortality risk, loneliness has also been linked to poorer mental health in older adults. Loneliness is associated with depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and cognitive decline.
One theory suggests that lonely individuals are more likely to experience negative biases in their thinking, which can lead to negative emotions like sadness or anxiety. Additionally, social isolation can lead to changes in brain structure and function, which may contribute to cognitive decline.
Signs of Loneliness in Senior Citizens
One sign is when a senior citizen begins to withdraw from activities that he or she used to enjoy. Another sign is when a senior starts to have trouble sleeping or eating. Furthermore, seniors may become more irritable and short-tempered when they are lonely.
Ways Seniors Can Overcome Loneliness
1. Get involved in your community
There are probably many activities and organizations in your area that you can join. Getting out and meeting new people can help reduce feelings of loneliness.
2. Spend Time With Apes or Animals
Studies have shown that spending time with animals can help reduce stress and improve moods. If you don’t have a pet, consider volunteering at a local animal shelter. Spending time caring for another living creature can give your life purpose and help take the focus off of your loneliness.
3. Connect With Others Online
If getting out isn’t possible or feels too daunting, there are still ways to connect with others from the comfort of home. There are now more opportunities than ever before to connect with like-minded people online through social media, forums, and even video games.
Whatever interests you may have, chances are that there’s an online community devoted to them where you can make new friends who share those interests.
4. Take up a new Hobby or Activity
Trying something new can also be a great way to not only avoid boredom but also to meet new people. Consider taking painting, cooking, dance classes, or anything else that sounds fun and interesting!
“Doing things we enjoy helps combat negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety, and anger,” said licensed professional counselor, Amy Morin.
5. Seek Counseling if Necessary
Some seniors may feel they need extra help to overcome their loneliness, and talking openly about any feelings of depression, anxiety, or other negative emotions with a therapist could be very beneficial.
Loneliness is a common feeling, especially among seniors. Interestingly, there are many ways seniors can overcome loneliness. However, it is important to find the ones that work best for you.
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