Loneliness can have an incredibly negative effect on both the mental and physical health of older people. Yet loneliness in old age is a problem that many people suffer from. Such loneliness can often occur after losing a spouse or partner, leaving an older person living alone for the first time in many years.
If you often feel lonely or isolated from people, read our guide to help you improve your social life and feel connected to loved ones.
Embrace New Things
The first step in dealing with loneliness in old age is to interact with more people and therefore feel more connected to society. Taking up a hobby or activity can be a great way of having something to talk about with people. You can also join a club at your local community centre to meet people with like-minded interests such as gardening, sewing, cooking, walking, and many more.
Loneliness in old age can often be seen in people with plenty of family who see their elderly relative when they can. However, for many, this won't be frequent enough to help ease their feelings of loneliness. In these cases, it could be beneficial to learn how to use technology such as Skype and Facebook to keep in touch with loved ones. A lightweight tablet would be ideal as it can be easily moved around the home and is simpler to learn and use.
Many community centres and libraries offer computer training to help people who are unfamiliar with technology.
Mix with New People (And Animals!)
If you're able to get out to the local park, coffee shop, or to take advantage of your free bus pass, then do so as much as possible. Going out of your home often will open up new opportunities to interact with people.
Even a smile and "good morning" to a neighbour could be the start of a friendship with them. Have as many of these small interactions as you can every day. Ask people questions to open up the conversation. Don't limit yourself to only people of your own age too; you'll find that many young people will appreciate the short exchange too.
You may find you still find home to be too quiet. Many people who suffer from loneliness in old age get themselves a companion to live with. A fish, cat, or dog can be great company to talk to; just make sure you choose something that is suitable to your lifestyle and physical abilities.
Take Action to Socialise
The simplest way to deal with loneliness in old age is to invite people round for a cuppa! Take the initiative to keep in contact with friends and family and even let them know if you are feeling a little lonely.
It can be hard to admit to for some people, but your loved ones will want to know and do what they can to make you feel better in future. Reach out to the new people you are meeting and socialising with to ensure that you see them frequently.
Overcome Loneliness in Old Age
Once you've joined some classes, planned some trips out, and invited people round, jot down these events in your diary. A busy diary will give you lots to look forward to and can be handy to remind you to keep in contact with people.
Most importantly, remember that loneliness in old age is very common. You are not alone! Embrace your sense of adventure and have fun doing new things and meeting new people.
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Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 4th November 2021 to reflect current information.