The elderly population is quickly growing thanks largely to the advancement in health care. Unfortunately, there is a growing trend that as we get older the chances at some point we feel lonely or cut off from society also dramatically increases.
This is backed up by research from AgeUK, with more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 living alone, and more than a million among the elderly admitted that they go for over one month without speaking to any member of their family or their closest friends! Research conducted from the University of California, San Francisco, also showed that 18% of seniors in the United States live alone, while 43 percent reported feeling lonely on a regular basis.
Loneliness can be described as negative feelings or sadness brought about by lack of communication or companionship with other people. This can affect anybody at any age, but as we head into retirement and seniority it becomes more widespread.
This makes sense because as we age we are more likely to lose loved ones, friends and more often than not, end up living alone. We are also more likely to suffer health complications which in turn can make it a lot more difficult to get out and meet new people - all of which are likely to lead to increase feelings of loneliness and isolation. Isolation leads to loneliness and loneliness leads to isolation.
It seems a bleak and depressing picture. A vicious cycle that can be extremely hard to break. However, the good news is that we live in an age where chatting online and interacting with people is now easier than ever before.
Below are 10 proven ways that Seniors can realistically beat loneliness.
1. Try to Meet New People
It's not always easy, but try to make an effort to meet new people. At first, try talking to people you meet in a shop or the high street. Try to be receptive to people you come into contact with. A casual "Good Morning" or a friendly smile goes a long way and can easily lead to a conversation. If you find it hard to get-out-and-about why not get to know your neighbors or contact old friends that you have lost touch with. Social websites like Facebook and Senior Chatters makes it easy to get back in touch with old friends and the opportunity to chat to new people online.
According to research, people who reminisce have an enhanced emotional health and are less likely to be lonely or withdrawn. Reviewing you life will help you recall all those precious memories that mattered most to you. Maybe you have some old photographs or video to look back over. Take time to reflect. This can often lead to forgotten interests that you may want to take up again or perhaps people that you may want to reach out to
3. Join a Support Group
When we find support from people with similar conditions it gives us the strength to fight feelings of depression and loneliness. A good example of such a group is the Grief and Bereavement groups. This is an important resource for widows and widowers who might otherwise resort to isolation. Research shows that early death rates for socially isolated people may be due to the fact that they don’t have anyone to encourage them to get help with health problems or to encourage them when they are having a health crisis. Support groups of any kind can be invaluable. Look online or your local area for a support group for whatever crisis you're facing.
4. Adopt a Pet
There is a reason why a dog is called man’s best friend. Most people tend to enjoy the company of a pet and in that respect don’t feel alone. Research reveals that caring for a pet can renew meaning and purpose in your life. A dog for example will give you a reason to go for a walk and meet new people.
5. Pick a Hobby
Hobbies are a great way to keep busy. Through a new hobby you can develop interests in something you used to love or something you just developed an interest in. It doesn't matter what the hobby is, just so long as you enjoy speding time doing it. So even if your mobility is challenged you can still enjoy popular past-times like; reading, playing an instrument, arts and crafts etc.
Use the knowledge and experience you have gained over a lifetime to give something back to the community. You will get a lot back in return such as confidence, new skills and the opportunity to make new friends. There are so many volunteering opportunities out there that relish the qualities and skills of older people such as experience, calmness and patience. You can check with your local senior center or charity shop for volunteer opportunities.
7. Explore your faith
This is one of the proven strategies likely to help against loneliness. People who have a strong sense of faith tend to be less lonely. Buy Why? A lot of factors are at play here, One of which is the fact that faith communities tend to provide many opportunities for positive social encounters. Many seniors feel that simply belonging to a community helps massively. In addition to that, faith can help you accept the things in life that you cannot change.
8. Explore Therapy
Some people are more susceptible to loneliness than others - it's just the way we're wired. Therefore, it can be very hard to beat loneliness and isolation if you're a naturally withdrawn person or find it extremely difficult to meet new people. In this case professional help should be encouraged. Search for a professional with a cognitive behavioural background, an approach that has been proved to help people suffering from depression and loneliness.
9. Solve Transport Issues
People with walking difficulties can become withdrawn and suffer with feelings of loneliness and isolation. However, Local buses are free for seniors the older people across England. The age at which you can apply for a free bus depends on your date of birth. Contact your local authority to find out how you can apply.
10. Talk to a Trusted Friend or Relative
You can get some ideas and feedback as well as a sympathetic ear from a friend or a family member with whom you trust your thoughts and feelings. This person is likely to have some ideas of groups you might want to join to meet positive people.
Loneliness is a complex problem among the elderly. Fortunately, some of the best proven ways to deal with it are simple. Follow some of the ways noted above and you will be surprised how you will overcome the loneliness in your life.