Feelings of loneliness are strongly associated with a wide number of other health issues such as social isolation, depression, and increased risk of suicide. The problem affects millions across the country but is especially prevalent for senior citizens. As we age, there is an increased chance that we will be around fewer people and that our social circles will shrink.
Seniors and Loneliness
One of the biggest populations that are affected by feelings of loneliness is seniors and older adults. According to one report, about twenty percent of adults over the age of 50 are affected by social isolation. The health and well-being of adults are generally affected by the level of social activity that they are exposed to.
A lot of the time, for seniors, they can experience social isolation for a number of reasons. For example, some seniors are unable to move and travel as they did in their younger years, this can cause them to stay home alone more often than not. Similarly, some seniors may have lost close friends and loved ones to old age and may not have many other close friends that they can visit.
Other risk factors for loneliness include:
- Low income and financial resources
- Psychological or cognitive challenges
- Inadequate social support
- Language barriers
- Mobility or sensory impairment
Whatever the case may be, seniors can struggle with loneliness, depression, and other health issues associated with those type of social problems. These problems can then evolve into other health issues and increased risks of suicide.
Luckily, for seniors, there are a number of ways to increase social stimulation and help you live a happy and healthy life as you age. Some actions that you can take to stay engaged socially include:
- Invite people over for coffee or events — Sometimes it is you who has to take the initiative to talk with someone, you can’t always just wait for someone to reach out to you. Whether it is the movies, the museum, or something else, just ask someone to go out and do something.
- Schedule a daily time to call a friend — Scheduling a daily block of time when you can talk with someone, whether it’s a friend or family member, can help to
- Meet your neighbors — One of the easiest ways to connect is to look to those around you, people you see every day. Whether they are older or younger, meeting your neighbors can help provide small social benefits.
- Utilize social media — Sites like Facebook may be hard to use at first if you are unfamiliar, however, once you get started it is a great way to connect with old friends and meet new people with likeminded attitudes and beliefs.
- Revisit old hobbies — As we age, many of us may forget or lose interest in hobbies or activities that we once enjoyed. However, by picking these things up again, it provides us a great opportunity to be active and meet new people along the way.
- Take a class — Many local colleges offer seniors and older individuals access to free classes that they can take to keep them mentally engaged.
As you can see, there are a number of ways that you can increase your social presence and engagement with others. However you choose to do it, just make an effort to put yourself out there and meet others. Learning how social engagement can help seniors can help push you forward and put you on the right track toward solving loneliness and social isolation. If you are feeling too nervous, a good first step may be to buy a dog or a cat, both of which can provide you with emotional support.