Loneliness is something almost everyone faces at some point in their lifetime. Sometimes, not having anyone around can make you feel lonely, but other times, a feeling of not being truly connected in your relationships causes isolation.
Unfortunately, this can be a common situation for seniors due to issues such as reduced mobility or having family that has moved away. At Hickory Villa assisted living community, we want our residents to be as healthy as possible in every way, and that includes addressing feelings of isolation.
Seniors who are struggling with feelings of isolation in their current home might consider a future move into an assisted living community. At Hickory Villa, you can often find other residents gathered in common spaces or around dining rooms, and you can take part in plenty of social activities to build community for yourself.
Find out more about the burden or loneliness below and some ways you can deal with it.
Many seniors feel lonely as a side effect of the changes in their lives and lifestyles as they age.
One common change seniors make is moving. They might downsize into a condo or apartment to save money or time because they don't need a large family home anymore. This can sometimes cause feelings of loneliness because seniors might feel as if they're leaving behind friendships built over the years. Even if a senior stays in their current home or moves within the neighborhood, it's possible that many other people have moved too and the same friends and family are no longer around.
Another reason seniors might find themselves feeling lonely is that they aren’t being thrust into new situations and social circles via careers or other activities, which means they’re not meeting new people and making new friends.
Some older adults may still have loved ones and friends nearby but find that they see them less. This can be because people's schedules are busy or because the senior is less mobile and it's harder to get around.
And during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people — children, younger adults and seniors alike — have experienced feelings of isolation.
Loneliness can have lasting effects on a person's mental and physical health. As social creatures, humans aren’t meant to go without meaningful interactions and connections for a long period of time. One of the main symptoms of loneliness is higher stress, which leads to other negative effects. More stress can mean higher blood pressure, worse sleep quality and other issues with physical health.
If you're feeling lonely, there’s a good chance people around you in similar circumstances feel the same way. So, by reaching out, you can help yourself feel less lonely while also helping your neighbor.
It can be as simple as starting a conversation with someone you don’t generally talk to or asking if someone wants to do an activity with you. You’ll be surprised how happy people might be to have someone want to be their friend. Even if you aren’t experiencing loneliness yourself, reaching out to others is a kind and Christlike thing to do.
You can also reach out by joining in on an existing group or activity. Whether you participate in one of the many activities in the assisted living community or enjoy groups outside of the community, getting together with people to do what you love can help you make new friends and feel less alone.
If you're not an assisted living resident who can take advantage of our many social activities, you might look for meetups and groups in the Omaha area. Assisted living residents can also branch out in this way. Meetup.com, Facebook groups and local senior community centers are all potential starting points.
The Bible tells us that we’re never alone and we always have Jesus by our side. Jesus can be a comforter and friend as much as he is Lord of lords. One idea to try is to use feelings of loneliness as a cue for prayer. When you feel lonely, go to Him in prayer. You can also try bringing this concern to Him in your regular prayer practice and asking him to help you reach out to others or to send some others your way.
A big issue when fighting loneliness is distance. Seniors may become separated from the people they have the deepest connection to by distance or quarantine isolation. While it's certainly important to keep yourself away from illnesses such as COVID-19 and the flu, it’s also vital to maintain deep relationships.
Luckily, modern technology offers a great solution for this paradox. You can stay safe while talking to your loved ones daily. FaceTime and programs like it are probably the best solution, as they let you see and hear your loved ones. You might also enjoy playing games online if your love language is quality time.
Whether you’re facing loneliness yourself or you suspect your neighbor is, fighting senior loneliness is an important cause you can start working on today.