Seniors today grew up learning to work hard, be independent and not complain. In fact, many grew up thinking mental and emotional problems were a sign of weakness. Seniors feeling isolated or lonely may choose to deal with these feelings rather than “complain” about them. However, loneliness can lead to depression which can be very serious if not treated properly.
It’s estimated that 11 million people over age 65 live alone. Living alone doesn’t necessarily mean a person will be lonely. Family, church and community activities can help seniors feel involved and connected to others. But with aging comes health and mobility problems which can contribute to seniors feeling alone and isolated.
Loneliness has been shown to:
- Cause higher blood pressure in seniors over 50
- Decrease cognitive ability
- Higher risk for illnesses like the flu virus
- Increases the risk of Alzheimer’s
Ways to prevent loneliness:
- Find new social activities – Check to see if there are senior centers or other community activities in your area. The Aspen Senior Center in Provo is a great place where seniors with some cognitive impairment socialize and enjoy a variety of activities together.
- Volunteer – the senior companion program in Utah County is a great way for seniors to meet with other seniors who are lonely and need a friend. Schools also love to have seniors come and help grade school children with reading.
- Adopt a pet – research has shown that pets are good for our health. They decrease the risk of depression, help bring blood pressure down, and reduce stress levels – in short they help fight against all the things that loneliness can cause.