Among the many mental states, loneliness is one of the most difficult for a person. The oppressive feeling that there is no one around, that no one needs you, no one wants to take care of you, is capable of morally crippling even the most strong-minded people.
Unfortunately, loneliness has become almost synonymous with old age. Elderly people experience this unpleasant feeling more acutely than other age groups, and it is not always associated with objective life circumstances. Many are lonely, but only a few show it. That’s why we have compiled a list of signs of loneliness in elderly and 5 distinct questions, so you can ask your grandparents how they are doing.
Risks of Loneliness in Elderly
Loneliness is one of the strongest psychogenic factors that affect the general condition of a person. The feeling of loneliness can arise regardless of whether there is someone nearby or not, but most often it is associated with isolation from society and the inability to fully communicate with other people.
At a young age, our psyche is more mobile, we can cope with the circumstances that led to loneliness, but the older we get, the more acutely we perceive all emotions and shocks. An elderly person, like a child, feels his social loneliness very sharply and suffers from it.
Loneliness becomes the main problem in old age, not only because of the peculiarities of the psyche of an elderly person but also in connection with completely objective circumstances and realities of life. Many elderly people, especially those who have lived to very old age, are faced with the fact that all their familiar surroundings are leaving them: relatives move away, create their own families, old friends and acquaintances die. In fact, a kind of social vacuum is created around the elderly person, from which it is almost impossible to break out of it on your own.
Social Isolation Of The Elderly
Gradually, health problems, fear of their own death are added to this, resentment against children and grandchildren arises due to insufficient attention on their part.
All this together gives rise to a deep feeling of loneliness, which the elderly person cannot cope with due to some weakening of social skills and a weaker psyche.
Feelings of loneliness, if accompanied by an elderly person constantly, can become a serious problem not only of an emotional but also of a physical and social nature.
A person who is constantly in a depressed state suffers diseases more heavily, suffers more from chronic diseases (partly due to the fact that he is forced to constantly concentrate his attention on them).
In relations with people, there is also a crisis. Loneliness often leads to a deterioration in relations with the remaining relatives and friends, as an elderly person literally begins to demand constant attention from them, which is not always possible. As a result, subconsciously, trying to escape from loneliness, a person becomes even more lonely.
Signs of Loneliness in Elderly
The loneliness of older people is an acute social problem that needs to be talked about openly and needs to be addressed by all available methods. Nursing homes partially help to cope with senile loneliness, but before talking about their role in solving this acute social problem, it is necessary to understand what we mean by senile loneliness.
Questions seniors must ask if they are living alone!
- Is your home age-friendly?
- Are you able to take care of yourself?
- Are you eating a healthy diet?
- Are you still able to get around?
- Do you still enjoy socializing?
If the answer to all these questions is no, then this is the sign of social isolation and depression. A serious step is required at this stage.
If you are living with your parents, you can ask these questions:
- Can I take you to (church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious places)?
- Do you want me to arrange a ride for you to go to that dinner meeting?
- Can you look after my cat this weekend?
- Do you need anything?
These kinds of questions help the parents to understand that they are not alone. There is someone who cares about them.
Methods of dealing with senile loneliness
To make life easier for an elderly person, to make him happier and more confident in himself, it is necessary to make every effort to avoid plunging the elderly into a state of loneliness.
The main task, in this case, is to restore stable social ties, surround a person with people (not only his peers but also representatives of other generations), and create an atmosphere in which the elderly person will have to constantly contact other people.
Gradually, from undesirable (many older people refuse to make new acquaintances), such communication flows into desirable.
There are three main ingredients that will help in the fight against senile loneliness:
- Stable psychological attachment to a specific person. They can be children, grandchildren, a spouse, or just a friend. Older people tend to become attached to someone, and in many ways, this attachment helps to cope with the feeling of social maladjustment that arises in old age.
- Social immersion. Simply put, an elderly person should spend as much time as possible in a society that requires communication and other skills from him.
- Communication with animals. This point is important for those elderly people who, for various reasons, do not have a direct opportunity to often communicate with other people, for example, live in isolation or simply do not have living relatives. Communication with animals largely replaces communication with people for such elderly people, as the elderly gradually „humanize“ their pet and begin to experience emotions similar to those that we get when communicating with people.
The problem of loneliness is one of the main problems for older people. Modern nursing homes can provide serious assistance to the elderly in the process of their social adaptation and return to active social life. In such houses, an elderly person is constantly among people, he has the opportunity to communicate with his peers and medical personnel, to make new affections and friends. In the end, all this has an extremely beneficial effect on the general psychological state.
If you see that your relative is suffering from loneliness, try to get him back to active social life as soon as possible!