Moving to a senior living community can be a difficult transition, especially when it is further away from family members and friends. Many seniors report feeling lonely, particularly at the beginning. These feelings have only been exacerbated over the past year with the global pandemic, which has kept many from being able to visit their loved ones as they normally would.
In this article, we will go over some of the major risks of loneliness as well as the benefits that come from social interaction. We will then go over some tips that you or your loved ones can use to combat loneliness, even while living in a senior care facility.
The risks of loneliness
Many seniors spend a lot of time indoors, alone. This can have mental, emotional, and physical side effects. For example, those who report feeling lonely have a great instance of depression or anxiety, and may have issues with sleeping or eating (either too much or too little). Others may have problems with alcohol dependence or abuse.
Loneliness can also increase one’s risk of developing ailments like arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more. Beyond that, individuals may experience faster cognitive decline and earlier onset dementia.
The benefits from social connection
Humans are social animals. Being around people makes us feel needed and gives our lives meaning. When we connect with others, we also maintain our physical and mental health and can delay some of the effects of aging. Those who have active social lives are also reported to have stronger immune systems, and to get sick less frequently (which is particularly important for seniors).
How to combat loneliness
It can be difficult to make sure that your loved one is getting enough social engagement and is not feeling too lonely in their senior living community. This is even harder with the coronavirus and the need to practice safe social distancing.
You can start by scheduling regular calls – video calls are even better. Having a standing call every week, for example, gives people something to look forward to. Beyond that, you should encourage getting outside for a walk every day; something as simple as even seeing other people can go a long way when it comes to warding off loneliness.
Another great way for someone to feel connected is for your seniors to sign up to various social accounts so they can keep in touch with their friends and family, even during times when they cannot see them in person.