Visiting Angels, Punta Gorda Blog

Combatting Loneliness in Older Adults

As we grow older, we are aware of the many changes that will occur to our bodies. We move a little slower, our vision begins to decline, we have difficulty hearing, and it’s a challenge to keep off the weight from indulging in a few extra holiday treats. We take a preventive approach to our health as we age, by exercising, eating healthy, and visiting the doctor regularly. However, when it comes to our social well-being, many older adults neglect that area of their life. It’s not something that we really think about, until we come to a point in our life when we realize that we’re lonely. Our social circles shrink as our family and friends move or pass away. Our adult children become busy with their own families, so they don’t visit as often. It becomes more and more difficult to leave the house, so we avoid getting together with a friend for lunch or miss the monthly book club at the library. Perhaps our adult children have already taken our car keys away, so now it’s difficult to socialize.

Woman looking out of window

According to Psychology Today, the oldest old, defined as being over the age of 80, are the loneliest cohort. Lonely adults are at greater risk of mental and physical decline than their more social counterparts. If you happen to fall into that age category, or have an aging loved one whom you are concerned about, here are a few strategies to help you combat loneliness in this stage of life.

Grow Your Social Circle

One of the biggest strategies you can put into place in order to combat loneliness is to grow your social circle. No matter what age, making friends is difficult, especially if you happen to be more introverted. However, making friends can be easy if you’re willing to put yourself out there. Of course, maintaining your current friendships is important and can help combat loneliness. Forming new friendships can help when current friends move away or aren’t available to get together. Put yourself in situations where you can make new friends. Join a book club, participate in activities at your local senior center, get involved at your church, or find special interest groups where you can share your hobbies with people who have similar interests. Remember that someone must take the initiative to say “hello,” and it may as well be you.

Volunteer

Another way to combat loneliness is to volunteer. Having a purpose can bring great satisfaction to anyone’s life, but volunteering is especially beneficial to an older adult. You may have retired years ago, but that doesn’t mean that you’re too old to still make a difference in the world. Find a volunteer opportunity that matches your passion and abilities. Perhaps you can help at the local animal shelter or volunteer at the library. If you like children, find opportunities to assist in the education system. Check with your church to see how you can get involved or volunteer at a homeless shelter. Some companies even offer volunteer opportunities that you can do from the comfort of your own home, such as stuffing envelopes or putting together kits to give to the homeless.

When you know that someone else is depending on you, you leave yourself with little time to feel lonely and have something worthwhile to wake up for in the morning.

Stay Connected through Technology

Although it’s not the same as an in-person visit, utilizing technology to stay connected with your family and friends can be a great way to combat loneliness. There are so many new devices that are easy to use once they’re set up, and many libraries offer programs where you can learn how to use smart devices. If your family lives far away, learn how to FaceTime or video chat so that you can see your children and grandchildren. If you have friends that travel for weeks at a time, video call them so that you can see what they’re up to on vacation. Take advantage of the technology available today to help you avoid feelings of loneliness.

Help for the Homebound

Homebound older adults are the most susceptible to loneliness. Even seniors living in a retirement community setting are susceptible to loneliness. If you are a homebound senior, reach out to your local agency on aging to learn more about home-visitation services offered in your town or public transportation for the elderly that is available to you. Seek the help you need and ensure that you’re connecting with other people throughout the week. If you are a family caregiver to a homebound senior, monitor for signs of loneliness, such as sleeping most of the day, a disheveled appearance, or loss of appetite. Dig deeper into activities that your aging loved one used to enjoy and find creative ways to adapt that activity so that they can continue to enjoy their favorite pastimes. Take time to reminisce with them about life events; research shows that older adults who engage in reminiscing have enhanced emotional health and are less likely to be lonely.

Choose Visiting Angels

One of the many in-home services that Visiting Angels Punta Gorda offers is elderly companion care. Our Elderly Companion Care services are second to none and can provide you or your aging loved one with the attention they need to combat loneliness. We are more than just another service provider. Our caregivers provide a genuine relationship of encouragement and support to seniors that are isolated or lonely at home. Our caregivers can escort you or your aging loved one on errands or just go for a drive to get out of the house for a bit, in addition to keeping you or your loved one company throughout the day. Our team is ready to work with you to establish a schedule that fits and accommodates your needs. Some of our clients receive weekly visits while others prefer a daily visit. Whatever your needs and preferences, we are here to work with you. If you or your aging loved one could benefit from our relationship-based care, please contact us today by calling, 941-347-8288 Punta Gorda or 239-226-1620 Lee County.

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.