Loneliness is one of the most pervasive and destructive health issues facing seniors today. Isolation and loneliness can cause or worsen depression, which increases the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But there are ways to combat loneliness in seniors! You can help your loved ones maintain healthy social connections, avoid potentially dangerous situations, and even provide them with new opportunities to make new friends if they want to do so. Here are six ways to combat loneliness in seniors!
Become Mindful through Meditation
Mindfulness, which is paying attention to your thoughts and surroundings nonjudgmentally, has been linked to health benefits like lower stress levels and improved immune function. One practice of mindfulness is meditation, which helps you clear your mind of anxiety-inducing thoughts. Consider practicing mindfulness for just five minutes each day, ideally when you’re in a relaxed state. Focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, keeping track of how many breaths you take in that time frame. As soon as you notice yourself thinking about anything other than counting or breathing — like “Oh, there’s a butterfly! Your favorite song came on! When are you going to have lunch?” — bring yourself back to focus on breathing for another minute or so before moving on with your day.
Try Something New
The best way to combat loneliness in loved ones is to encourage them to do new things, whether it’s joining a book club or signing up for a painting class. Encourage seniors to meet new people by joining volunteer programs or taking part in local events. If you’re a senior who feels lonely, reach out and try something new. You just might make a friend in your neighborhood.
Connect with Family and Friends
While it may be impossible to keep in contact with every friend you’ve ever had, it’s important to stay in touch with family members regularly. It helps combat loneliness and gives you a place to turn if problems arise. Getting together once a week for dinner is a great way to ensure everyone knows what’s going on in your life. Remember, while close relationships when socializing with seniors can often lift our spirits, they also provide us with support when we need it most.
Take an Online Class.
As you age, your social circle changes. Children may leave for college or get married. Friends and loved ones may pass away. You might move to a new city or retire, leaving you with less time for hobbies and activities outside of work. Whatever your reasons are for feeling lonely in seniors, it’s important to find ways to combat that loneliness. Joining an online community is one way that older adults can keep socializing with others their own age, even if they live alone in rural areas or travel frequently.
Get Physically Active
Getting physically active is a great way to combat loneliness. Keep in mind that physical activity may not be an option for all, especially those with severe limitations, but most family members can manage at least some type of low-impact exercise such as walking, swimming, and biking. The important thing is to do something that keeps you active and mobile. Don’t forget about your social network: With computers and smartphones so prevalent today, it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with friends and family. You don’t have to call or email every day, but don’t let months go by without reaching out at least once.