Solitude can be a welcomed thing but when it goes on too long loneliness sets in and that can eventually lead to depression.
Studies have shown that when isolated, individuals typically experience more health problems than those who have strong family ties or outside interests.
Here are a few ways to help the loved one in your life combat loneliness:
- It is important to realize first and foremost that you cannot take on the full responsibility for your loved one’s state of mind. Do what you can, but don’t absorb so much responsibility and guilt that your own health and wellbeing is affected.
- Look for opportunities for your loved one to be involved. If your loved one is involved in church, there can be many activities and opportunities to engage with others. Also consider senior centers who may have group trips, luncheons and other activities that will help to increase activity.
- Help your loved one learn to use Skype as a way to keep in touch with family members who don’t live near. The ability to see
their great-grandchildren playing or chat with family members provides a boost! You may also consider creating a Facebook page so family who live far away can share pictures and stories.
- Involve the whole family and their lifelong friends. Ask others to help out with household chores or shopping trips. See if a family member who lives closer might be willing to pitch in and help out with driving your relatives to the doctor’s or to volunteer activities. It’s good for people who feel isolated to see a variety of people, not just one person day in and day out.
- If your loved one is in poor health or has health problems that cause concern, consider equipping the home with a medical alert system. For those days when you can’t be there, the medical alert pendant provides peace of mind in case there is a medical emergency. While this doesn’t reduce the feeling of loneliness, it can provide comfort and alleviate some depression surrounding his or her condition.
Keeping in touch with your relatives is a great way to keep isolation at bay and help keep them healthier and able to age in place longer. Frequent visits, walks and short shopping trips help alleviate that housebound feeling as well. Ultimately, if depression seems to be worsening, it’s important to see a physician to diagnose and treat the problem.
- Are Older Adults Lonelier? (psychologytoday.com)