Aging is a reality of life that no one can escape. It can be overwhelming to see our parents struggle with ailments associated with old age. Still we fail to do much help as we cannot do anything about certain many medical consequences. However, there are a few things that we can certainly do help combat their loneliness and boost their mental wellbeing. 

The studies have shown that health issues like heart disease, depression, and cognitive decline are linked to social isolation and loneliness in the elderly. Moreover, aged individuals who live alone in a nuclear setup or those who are socially isolated due to physical immobility are found less healthy with frequent hospitalization episodes than those who live with their children or supportive and meaningful social relations. Hence, if we take time to help and support them, they'll feel happier and safer.

Find below some easy to follow tips to help your old parents and relative combat loneliness.


5 Tips to Help Seniors Combat Loneliness

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Many studies claim that older adults who take care of their grandchildren feel less lonely. So seek help from your elders in managing your kids' emotional care if you think they can do it. This will not only help them develop a great bonding experience but will also restore their confidence and give them a feeling of being valued. 

Five tips to help a loved one overcome loneliness:

1) Call regularly


Families can create a strategy to combat older parent loneliness by setting a schedule for more interaction, especially if the senior's spouse dies or the person can no longer drive. More contact entails making frequent phone calls to your parents. Try to eat with your parents at least once a day. Besides giving them company, you will also be sure that they eat well and get the nutrition they need.

2) Celebrate occasions with your parents


Make an effort to regularly commemorate little occasions with your parents. This will not only make them feel valued and participated but they will also have something to look forward to. You can do the following:

  • Involve your parents in important milestones like birthdays and family gatherings.
  • Plan holidays together, watch movies, or organize fun trips with them.
  • Play cards or board games together.
  • Go out for coffee once a week.

3) Teach your elders technology to maintain connections


Every elder should be taught to access computer with a camera and smartphones. The next best thing to being with a friend or family in person might be talking to them over the phone. Video conferencing is a fantastic method to stay in touch with loved ones who are far away and can help keep them from feeling alone and lonely. Also, social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram are extremely popular among the elderly. It is easy to create a profile and connect with family and friends. 

4) Gift them a pet


Giving your parents a furry friend might be an ideal gift to combat loneliness if they can take care of the pet. Pets are loyal and they have the capacity to make their surroundings lively by providing companionship. Animals not only provide solace but also help reduce stress and blood pressure.

5) Help them develop a new hobby


As we age, learning something new is a great way to keep the mind active, stimulated, and occupied. A book club or having a library membership, joining a yoga group or the formation of a knitting group can lead to more social opportunities and deep friendships.

How to Find If Your Elderly Loved Ones Are Vulnerable to Loneliness?


One can be at greater risk of loneliness if s/he or they:

  • Live alone.
  • Suffer from psychological or cognitive challenges or depression.
  • Have hearing loss or having trouble hearing.
  • Have limited social support or struggling financially.
  • Had a significant loss or life transition, such as the death of a spouse or a loved one or retirement.
  • Suffer from incontinence.
  • Live in remote, unsafe area and/or encounter language barrier.

Conclusion


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Always remember that loneliness in old age can impact both physical and mental health. Aging is also associated with a loss of employment, dip in health and energy levels, decline in mobility and independence, so you parents might need more of your help. You should empathize with your parents, spend quality time with them, and make life easy for them. If your parents are feeling lonely or isolated, consult their healthcare provider and discuss about the major changes or stresses in your parent’s life. Your doctor will understand the medical conditions and emotional health more fully and recommend the best treatment options available.

If you have any questions related to health issues or about the assistance of your old parents, you can Talk to Geriatrics at Ask a doctor, 24x7.

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Disclaimer: Information provided on this page is not intended to substitute for proper medical advice provided by your healthcare professional. This is only for informational purposes.

About the Author

Dr. Shweta Khanna

Shweta Khanna is a dental surgeon who has experience in dentistry for more than 13 years. She has been writing innovative medical and healthcare content for the past eight years. She has authored various medical blogs/articles related to dentistry, orthopedics, dermatology, women's health, consumer health articles, and research articles (basic and clinical).


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