Is it normal to feel this way? Why am I so lonely? Is there anything I can do?
Shrinking social circles, declining health, lifestyle changes, and even transportation challenges can mean isolation for older adults. If isolation leads to loneliness, it can have a devastating effect on physical and mental health, and therefore a senior’s quality of life. This can further lead to depression, which should never be viewed as a normal part of aging. Depression is a serious mood disorder, that in severe cases can impact daily activities for those seniors affected. Fortunately, there are things you can do at home to prevent the social isolation that can precede depression for yourself and the senior loved one in your life.
Find a Hobby
Retirement can be a shock to your system. The job that once kept you busy 40 hours a week is gone, and with it, you may feel that your sense of purpose is gone too. If you don’t find enjoyable and meaningful things to fill this immense amount of time you now have, you can find yourself feeling lost and lonely as you grow older. Here are some of the most popular hobbies to consider if you haven’t already:
- Volunteering – It’s good for the soul and there are literally thousands of opportunities out there. With a lot of these, you will have an opportunity to learn something new while performing acts of service that can provide a new sense of purpose. A list of top volunteer opportunities for older adults can be found here.
- Make time for reading – Join a book club! You can deepen your understanding of both books and people with this hobby, and you may even learn something new along the way. This is one hobby that you can enjoy virtually too.
- Walking and/or Hiking – This one comes with both fresh air and a quickened pulse- both good for your physical health and overall well being! Whether it’s your neighborhood or a local hiking trail, there are ample opportunities to get moving no matter where you live.
- Genealogy – This hobby has never been more popular or more easily accessible. You can explore your roots, and even find family treasures from your ancestors!
- Gardening – This one is good for the body, brain, and soul. What a sense of accomplishment one can feel by putting your hands in the soil and watching something grow. Gardening is always a learning experience, and communing with nature is simply an added benefit. Plus, you don’t need tons of land to create your own, unique, beautiful outdoor space- one simple pot can do!
- Bird watching – This can be the perfect hobby for older adults. You can take a day hike to explore the native birds of your area, or simply put out a bird feeder in view of your favorite window to enjoy this activity.
Consider a Pet
If you feel lonely, pets may be able to break the cycle and provide you not only companionship but also comfort and purpose. Pets offer unconditional love, which can be extraordinarily soothing when feeling isolated. Knowing you have to feed, walk, or care for your pet may give you a sense of purpose, and a routine. Owning a pet is not for everyone, much less mobility-limited seniors; however, an interaction with someone else’s pet can still serve the same purpose.
Limit Media Exposure
It’s likely no surprise to you that our senior aged population watches the most network and local news. With the COVID pandemic, alongside multiple other negative scenes currently consuming our country and televisions, it’s no wonder someone may feel down on themselves after watching television. It seems here lately that a large part of what is reported on the news is depressing commentary. But we need to remember, it’s just commentary. We must be able to read between the lines to some degree and determine what is truly factual versus opinion, and oftentimes that can be a hard thing to do. So, if you suffer from depression and anxiety, trying to limit your exposure to media that may be adding to your negative feelings can help.
We have merely scratched the surface of the topic of depression and anxiety in seniors. Their lives are changing as they get older. Sometimes we need to get them a little help to keep them aging-in-place so they can stay as comfortable with their surroundings as they have always been. As a caregiver of a senior parent or loved one, it’s important to remember to make your senior loved one a part of the decisions that ultimately impact their daily care and function. If we take all of their decision making away from them, it could add to any feelings of isolation, depression, or anxiety.
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Dwell at Home is not a licensed medical professional and all information provided is provided “as is” with no warranties. You should consult a licensed physician for any questions related to your health. Dwell at Home makes no guarantee about any application or third party web site mentioned in any article on this web site.