Loneliness – How to Overcome this Elderly Vulnerability
by Daisy Anderson
"I need a break from the loneliness that is totally consuming me" - Anonymous
Aged people are especially susceptible to social isolation and loneliness, which can have serious implications on their physical as well as mental health. Hundreds of thousands of seniors are reportedly lonely and cut off from society, with over 5 million older people admitting television as their main source of company.
Seniors become socially isolated for various reasons such as illness, disability, discarded by family or no longer being the hub of their family, retirement or the deaths of spouses.
Seniors who are lonely probably also find it hard to reach out to. So whatsoever the reason is, it’s shockingly easy for them to be left alone and vulnerable, which might lead to severe depression and a serious physical health decline.
There is certain stigma surrounding loneliness which doesn’t allow many proud older people to ask for any sort of help.
Thus, it's always important to bear in mind that loneliness can and does affect anyone at any age. But there are more than one ways to overcome isolation, even if one lives alone and finds it quite hard to move around.
This article focuses on the ways how older people can connect with others to feel important and appreciated again:
Grab every opportunity to strike a conversation or smile at others even if it feels hard – for instance with the cashier at the shop counters or the person next to you in the GP waiting room. And if you’re shy or not sure what to say, just try asking them about themselves.
Down and lonely feeling often invites tempting thoughts that no-one wants to accompany you. But small events such as tea invitations are often appreciated by family, friends and neighbors to come and spend quality time with you.
If you find it quite tedious to host an event and wish someone else to do it for you, then you can sought help from many charities in your localities (like Contact the elderly in UK) which regularly holds free afternoon tea parties on each weekends especially for 75 plus who are living alone. You will be collected and driven from your home to a volunteer host’s home for the afternoon.
Keep in touch via phone
To chat with a friend or any relative over the phone would be the next best thing to being with them. And you can also avail numerous elderly chat numbers such as the free Silver Line on 0800 4 70 80 90, to receive a weekly or fortnightly friendship call from a volunteer who enjoys talking to older people.
Many community networks provide services which gives seniors the chance to join a telephone book club whereby each four to six weeks a group of about six people discuss their favorite film or book over the phone. Such Community Network brings seniors together on the phone each week.
If your friends or family live far away, you can keep in touch with them, especially with your grandchildren, via a personal computer or any hand held computer such as tablet. One can even share emails and photos or can avail free video chats using services like Viber, Face Time or Skype and reconnect with your old friends or make new online friends through social media sites like Twitter or Face book.
A tablet can be particularly handy if you are unable to move around easily as you can place it on your lap or in your palm. Its screen is quite clear and bright and the sponge tip stylus pen or speech recognition can help if the touch screen is difficult for the arthritic hands or fingers.
Various community centers or assisted care living or retirement homes often provide regular training for older people to learn computer basics to divert their minds and to interact as well as spend quality time with others in their own right.
Local community activities
Join the local community activities where you’ll have all the access to any walking or singing group, bridge, book clubs, quiz nights and other faith groups. These events provide ample opportunities to the seniors, not only to interact but also to showcase some of their hidden talents to others.
Filling up your diary
If computers are not your type then you can also opt for activity such as filling up your diary on daily basis. It can readily help you feel lesser lonely and you can plan your week ahead and put things accordingly in the diary as you look forward towards each day. You can note down simple activities such as going to a local coffee shop, a stroll in the park, visit a library, cinema, sports centre or a museum.
Get out and about
Now just don’t wish and wait for people to come and visit you, instead travel to visit them. This calls for active health and attitude. Seniors have one advantage with public transport providing better cheaper services. Travel via bus is almost free for seniors’ over-60 in most of the countries and the longer distance train or coach travel can be readily cheap, if one uses a senior rail card.
Utilize your knowledge, skills and experience which you’ve gained over your entire lifetime in order to serve back your community. You’ll surely get lots in return such as new skills, confidence and of course, new friends too.
There are numerous volunteering opportunities which appreciate the skills and qualities of aged people such as experience, patience and calmness.
We do sincerely hope that the article will immensely help all the seniors to be as creative as possible and be active enough to keep the serious ailment called Loneliness, at bay.