One of the most common issues that many seniors deal with day to day is loneliness or feelings of isolation. This is often seen in elderly individuals who have recently lost their spouse or those who live at home alone. But senior loneliness can also be a reoccurring issue for those who live with their children or other family members.
It’s normal to feel lonely every now and then especially if you live alone or don’t have the chance to socialize with others often. But ongoing feelings of elderly loneliness and depression in seniors can sometimes be a sign of an underlying mental illness or disorder.
The Dangerous Effects of Senior Loneliness and Isolation
These days, there are many resources out there to help independent and able-bodied seniors live out their golden years in the safety and comfort of their own homes.
Home health care providers, hired caregivers, sitters, and a variety of safety measures make it possible for more seniors to live at home without the need of relocating to a nursing home or a retirement facility. These individuals make a positive impact in the fight against senior loneliness.
But this new trend in senior living has also created a rise in the higher levels of loneliness and feelings of isolation in seniors than we have seen in the past. While we are allowing more seniors to live independently, we are leaving them on their own for long periods of time with less interaction with their family members. This can have a damaging effect on their mental health and overall wellbeing.
There are many factors that can contribute to senior loneliness and feelings of isolation. These can include:
- Living on their own following the loss of a spouse
- Health issues that cause limited mobility
- A disability that prevents them from being as active or social as they once were
- Sensory impairments such as hearing loss
Add these factors to the decrease in communication that an elderly individual may have with their friends and family members or moving to a new location such as an assisted living community can also add to their feelings of elderly loneliness.
It can also be true when family members such as their children move away to another town or state, or when aging siblings or friends pass away. When an elderly individual is placed in an independent situation while these other events are taking place, it can trigger feelings of instability and insecurity. This can lead to the individual having increased feelings of physical isolation and social disconnection.
How to Determine Depression in the Elderly
It is normal for seniors to have feelings of loneliness and depression from time to time. But what if their sad and isolated feelings are more than just senior loneliness? Family caregivers should be aware that if these symptoms persist, their loved one could be dealing with something much bigger than loneliness, such as depression.
Depression in older adults is more common than you may think. And many times, depression in the elderly may be linked to underlying mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. If you have concerns that your loved one is dealing with more than basic symptoms of loneliness, you should consult with a mental health professional as soon as possible.
Tips for Helping Seniors Avoid Loneliness and Depression
Senior loneliness and feelings of isolation are extremely common and will continue to become a major issue as more seniors choose to live at home alone in the years to come. Here are a few useful tips for helping your loved one avoid the effects of elderly loneliness.
Address Any Issues with Incontinence
Seniors who experience incontinence issues will obviously have problems with leaving their home and going to social events. But if their family members or caregivers help to ensure that their incontinence issues will not be a problem while they are out, they will have more confidence and will want to be more active.
Do things such as finding out the root of the incontinence problem, adjusting medication as needed, or making sure that the elderly individual has the supplies needed, such as adult undergarments, to live their life without the fear of an accident. This way, they can start living their lives without the fear of embarrassment once again.
Boost Your Loved One’s Self Esteem
Positive comments and compliments can help go a long way when it comes to giving seniors a boost of self-confidence. At the same time, discouraging elderly individuals due to their appearance can also cause them to feel self-conscious. In some cases, this can get so bad that it may cause the individual to avoid social situations and isolate themselves in their homes.
If your loved one is feeling down about their appearance, treat them to a haircut from a professional or help them pick out a new outfit to wear to an upcoming event to help give their self-esteem the boost that it needs to eliminate isolation.
Encourage a Hearing and Vision Test
If issues with hearing or vision loss have caused your loved one to isolate themselves, they are not alone. There are many seniors who have undiagnosed hearing and vision problems. This can cause them to avoid social situations because of their inability to communicate well with others. And that can lead to the onset of elderly loneliness.
If that is the case, a hearing and vision screening from their doctor could make a huge difference in their life. In many cases, a hearing aid is often the only barrier standing in the way of a lonely senior experiencing better social health.
Could a Pet Help Your Loved One with Symptoms of Loneliness?
If your loved one is able to care for a pet on their own, getting them a dog or cat could be the fastest and easiest cure for their loneliness. Senior pet owners are known to have less depression, suffer from loneliness far less often, and feel more secure than those who do not own pets.
Caring for a pet can provide an elderly individual who is living on their own with the responsibility to care for another being. It can provide them with more confidence, self-worth and make them feel happier overall because they have a constant companion by their side.
Get Assistance with Elderly Loneliness from the Experts in Senior Care at Desert Parkway Behavioral Healthcare Hospital
Desert Parkway Behavioral Healthcare Hospital is your premier location in the Las Vegas area for mental health treatment and psychiatric care. We specialize in a broad range of care and support for individuals of all ages dealing with trauma, depression, mental illness, and substance abuse.
If you have an elderly loved one who is dealing with ongoing senior loneliness and feelings of isolation, they could be suffering from much more than that. They could be living with depression or another type of mental health disorder that is prohibiting them from living their life to the fullest.
Fortunately, treatment is available and close to home at Desert Parkway Behavioral Healthcare Hospital’s Transitions Program. Get in touch with our team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 877-663-7976 for more information.
We are available 24/7. Call 877-663-7976. Hablamos español.