Aging has a tendency to push the ones we love into smaller and smaller circles, withdrawing from wider-reaching social groups and activities. Removing oneself from certain facets of the outside world is commonplace for senior citizens, as they downsize their home, move into retirement communities, and forgo activities their bodies can no longer physically handle.
While downsizing and withdrawing may have a negative connotation, restructuring one’s life due to age can bring about many positive changes. Moving into a smaller home can alleviate the need for yard work or household tasks that are no longer manageable for them such as cleaning gutters, mowing the lawn or pulling weeds. Downsizing can also reduce bills and can free up more time for your loved one to engage in other activities they’re interested in but sometimes this can create new problems!
As your loved one begins to adapt to their new lifestyle, one of the most important things they can do to maintain their happiness is nurture their social connections. Most elderly individuals see retirement as a period in their life in which they want to spend more time with their families. However, the elderly often feel isolated as family and friends move away or pass on. Losing one’s loved ones or feeling disconnected can facilitate a downward spiral or lead to depression. Therefore, the most important indicator of happiness as people age depends on their ability to adapt to change. Going into isolation is a choice elderly individuals make, which often results in the following behaviors:
- Driving less or eliminating vehicles: Elderly individuals often begin to limit their amount of driving and downsize from two cars to one.
- Reduce their amount of travel and entertainment: Your loved ones may begin to cut down on the number of vacations they take each year, reduce the amount of time they spend on vacation, or stop going on vacations altogether. In addition to limiting trips, your loved one may also limit the amount of restaurants and or other activities they go to.
- Cut out or reduce hobbies: You may also notice that your loved one has quit attending regular activities with friends like playing golf or cards or even doing solo activities like knitting or gardening.
- Reducing the size of their closet or getting rid of belongings: The elderly tend to get rid of some of the clothing they think they no longer have use for.
- Moving closer to their children: This act often results in a greater reliance of their children for errands and activities.
- Eating habits: Your loved one may begin to limit what they eat, eating the same meals every day and foregoing new foods or recipes.
- Reduce the amount of time spent with friends and social groups: Lunch dates and social gatherings with friends may be reduced or eliminated altogether.
While some aspects of withdrawing and downsizing are normal when it comes to aging, completely cutting oneself off from the outside world and resorting to isolation is not. Make sure your loved is adapting well to change or consult with their doctor if you believe their behavior has become a cause for concern!