Helping Seniors Overcome Loneliness
Due to the COVID pandemic, loneliness and social isolation are growing public health concerns for seniors. Despite today’s technological advances, research suggests that Americans are lonelier than ever before, and seniors experience this loneliness at a higher rate than any other age group. According to the most recent National Poll on Healthy Aging, approximately 1-in-3 seniors are lonely.
Loneliness has long been connected to a range of health issues in seniors, including heart attacks, strokes, depression, anxiety, dementia, and early death. If you are concerned about a senior in your life, there are things you can do to help! Here are five simple ways you can help combat senior loneliness.
- Take time to listen. Simply having you there to listen can help your loved one feel less alone. Engage your loved one in conversation. Ask questions and encourage them to express themselves.
- Develop a plan. Take the time to learn about your loved one’s interests and develop a plan to incorporate them into everyday life. Encourage your loved one to join a book club or walking group or to take up a new hobby such as gardening or knitting.
- Ask your loved one to teach you something. Allow your loved one to teach you something. Even if all they can do is offer advice, it will bring meaning to their life.
- Find a volunteer opportunity. Volunteering offers many benefits for loneliness. According to the National Institute on Aging, participation in meaningful activities can decrease the risk for dementia and physical health issues. It will keep your loved one’s brain active and gets them out of the house and into the community.
- Explore pet adoption. While an animal is not quite a substitute for human companionship, studies show that there are physical and mental health benefits to caring for a pet. Encourage your loved one to consider adopting a pet. Having a pet around will also make their home feel less empty.
Aging is a fact of life and something that no one can escape. But there are always opportunities to meet new people and to stay connected with family and friends – you can help make them happen! For more information and resources, visit www.PennFoundation.org.
It is Mental Health Awareness Month. 1-in-5 individuals live with a mental health disorder but help is available. St. Luke’s and Penn Foundation offer comprehensive care locally. Visit our website for resources and to learn more.