Six ways for older adults to fight loneliness

Arwin Wang
Arwin Wang

As your older family member ages, feelings of loneliness are inevitable. Most of your family might have moved out, many of their friends are aged or aging and unfortunately, some may have passed on. Others might have left town and this might leave them feeling lonely. The good news is that you don't have to allow isolation and loneliness to consume them. As their child looking after their wellbeing, you can help them to look at this positively and adopt a positive attitude.Now that they have decided to remain in their home and age in place, you can help them examine various options to avoid loneliness. There are simple and fun things that they can do to fight loneliness. Here are some interesting habits and activities that you can suggest to your parent or older loved one.

“Exploring a nearby park or hiking is a great way to get outside and meet other people .”

1. Explore the world around them

Indeed, they have probably lived in the same place for over 30 years and might not be in the mood to travel because they probably did that in their youth. However, you can encourage them to become a local tourist. Suggest visiting the local park and feeling the fresh air from the trees, going to that part of town that they have never been to and meeting other old people while doing new activities. Encourage them to visit the nearest shopping center for shopping or just window shopping if they like. They could also join a community club that interests them. It could be a book club, a community fundraising club or simple attending church, mosque or temple activities. Whatever they decide to do, help them understand that leaving the house can make a big difference when it comes to dealing with loneliness.

2. Help them focus on their health

Isolation and loneliness tend to cause older people to pay less attention to their health and well-being. Pay close attention to both their physical and psychological health. Loneliness can make them feel as if no one cares for them and might cause them to drink, smoke or adopt other unhealthy habits. When your older loved one keeps physically fit by hitting the gym or doing morning runs, stretches or walks, they can meet other health-conscious people who share similar interests and become friends. Remember the best part about being healthy is keeping the brain stimulated, keeping it active and feeling young. Physical activity has also been known to release hormones that contribute to that positive feeling about oneself. They will be in more control over their body and stay focused on matters concerning their life.

“Baking, painting, any type of creative activity is a great way to get your loved ones doing new things.”

3. Encourage them to be creative

Your aged loved one could decide to write books, learn to play an instrument, paint or do something exciting with their hands. Anything creative will stimulate their mind and should be encouraged. Getting creative is something many seniors enjoy and it makes them less lonely. The sky is the limit when it comes to creative activities. They can attend a dance class, an art class, a cooking class, a music class, a writing class and so on. After gaining the knowledge encourage them to create their original work and showcase it. The lovely part about getting creative is that they will always challenge themselves to carefully think about what they are going to create. This way, there will be no room for them to feel lonely.

4. Inspire A grateful attitude

As they age, this is often a time for them to reflect on how life has been. They will constantly flashback on past events of their life. They might have a few regrets which are why you should talk to them and find out what they are. You could then encourage them not to dwell on those because they are major contributors to sad and lonely feelings. Remind them that they are still alive and that that is reason enough to be grateful. They shouldn't feel as if it is too late to make changes in their life or make a difference within their community or family. Encourage them to be more accepting of their life but even more importantly, recognize and respect all the great things that they have accomplished and all the great things going on in their lives currently. Remind them of these great things such as the friends they have in their life, the great career they have had, the awesome job you have they did raising you your siblings or any children of their own. The great memories that they have of their past life and the fact that they are aging gracefully in place. This is a reason to be even more thankful. Inspire them to feel confident and positive about themselves.

“Pets are fantastic for the elderly. They help
keep them active and busy.”

5. Have them adopt a pet

A pet in your parent's home would be a great companion especially if they are aging in place. The Pet will be more than just a companion; it will make them feel positive about their life. The love and devotion that the pet will provide them are usually unconditional. A pet will never criticize, judge or question their need of wanting them around. Enjoy the company of a nice dog, cat, bird or even a reptile if that is what interests you.Whatever pet they choose, make sure they can care about it. By caring for their pet, they will also develop meaning in their life again if they happen to have lost it. The feeling that someone in their life is depending on them and cares for them is great. Before they adopt the pet, have them think about their capabilities and how they will manage to take care of it. It is best to get a pet that will not require a lot of energy taking care of it, especially if your aged loved one lacks that energy. In the end, a pet is a great companion to fight loneliness when they are aging in place.

6. Find volunteering work near them

Another great way for seniors to fight loneliness when aging in place is by checking out volunteering opportunities near them. They are many that can make a difference. It could be organizing a polling center, a community rally, cleaning up an area, working in an adult daycare center, animal shelter and so on. Help them seek volunteering opportunities near them that will get them involved in transforming their community. As they help others, life becomes easier and they feel a certain fulfillment because they are making their community a better place. Besides, they might get an opportunity to meet other seniors with the same idea and this is how that loneliness will become a thing of the past with new friends in place. Don't let loneliness and depression take away the joy in the life of your aged loved one. Help them change their situation and enjoy an exciting, comfortable and fulfilling life. When they come to visit you or when you all go to visit, make sure you look close and the new zest that they have for life. If the spark isn't there, then from the above tips, you know exactly what to do.