Many aging Americans are lonely. If your parent is divorced, widowed or single after the age of 65, she might feel isolated and alone. If she is living with a spouse or significant other, the odds of her living on her own increase with each passing year. Senior isolation can hurt your parent’s physical and mental health and shorten her lifespan. Here are tips on how to deal with your aging parent’s loneliness.
Discover why your parent has become isolated. If transportation has become an issue, scout out public transportation, ride-share services like Lyft or Uber and transportation for seniors. If your parent is frustrated in social settings because he cannot hear well, get him a hearing aid, so he can participate in the conversations around him.
Some older adults are afraid to leave their homes due to a fear of falling from mobility or vision problems. Getting your parent, a quad cane or walker can provide the stability she needs. An eye exam and new set of glasses can open the world to her again.
Listen and Learn
Even seniors who go to family events, church, and shopping can feel miserably lonely, because no one is interested in talking with them. It can be a wonderful gift to sit down with an older adult and strike up a conversation. It might take prodding, but once he realizes that you genuinely want to hear what he must say, you might not get him to stop talking.
Pay attention to things he mentions about activities he used to enjoy when he was younger. Get creative and adapt those hobbies or arrange similar activities for him.
If your parent knows a skill you do not, ask her to teach you. Our society is losing many skills, as fewer people today know how to read music, sew, embroider and oil paint. Love your one to tell you about hobbies she used to engage in, then learn one from her. She will feel useful and you will gain an ability you did not have before. Feeling valued is a powerful antidote to loneliness.
What to Do About the Epidemic of Loneliness
Nearly 30 percent of Americans age 65 and older live alone. As they grow older, the numbers go even higher. The AARP suggests that seniors build a social network, rather than developing just one or two friendships. People who are less lonely participate in social network-building activities like:
- Serving as a volunteer in the community
- Engaging in a favorite hobby
- Attending services at a place of worship
- Being involved in an organization in the community
Your local community center or senior center will have regularly-scheduled activities for aging adults. Some provide transportation and meals. Your town’s social services agencies can be a resource for activities for your loved one. Getting your aging parent engaged socially can prevent depression, increase his happiness, improve his health and make your relationship more pleasant.
Consult with an elder law attorney near you.
AgingCare.com. “Combatting the Epidemic of Loneliness in Seniors.” (accessed July 4, 2018) https://www.agingcare.com/articles/loneliness-in-the-elderly-151549.htm
AARP. “Loneliness Among Older Adults: A National Survey of Adults 45+.” (accessed July 4, 2018) https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/life/info-2014/loneliness_2010.html
A Place for Mom. “20 Facts About Senior Isolation That Will Stun You.” (accessed July 4, 2018) https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/10-17-14-facts-about-senior-isolation/