Many seniors and older adults feel disconnected from society and lose relationships as they get older. There are several of reasons for isolation in the lives of seniors. For example, retired individuals and couples can choose to move into a senior-only community, but their new home is little ways from their children and friends, thus getting less visitors throughout the years.
According to an article by AARP, a study by the University of California, San Francisco, found that about 43% of adults older than 65 felt lonely. The article quotes other studies that prove that feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to serious health issues, and even increase the risk of mortality. For example, there are instances where after one of the elderly couple passes away, the other one “follows” and passes too.
The article also quotes the director of the University of Chicago Center for Cognitive & Social Neurosciences, who stated that loneliness is not a permanent feeling, and should be treated like physical pain or hunger. By viewing loneliness as a temporary state of mind, seniors can “treat themselves” by being proactive in their daily lives to maintain old relationships and establish new ones.
If you are a senior and are looking for ways to reconnect with society, consider the following ideas: visit or volunteer at your local community centers (senior center, animal shelter, youth center, public library, etc.), reconnect with your old friends or coworkers, or reach out to your neighbors and (extended) family. Interacting with others will give you a sense of presence in your community, and can lead to the establishment of meaningful relationships. Don’t hesitate to call your local office on aging to get more ideas on community activities and events.
If you know any seniors, whether they are your family, friends or neighbors, it helps to pay them a visit every now and then. Invite them over for tea or dinner, ask them to tell you their life stories, go on light walks, or even run errands together. Chances are, you will gain new knowledge and perspectives by spending time with seniors. Keep in mind that even small interactions or gestures can go a long way.