<!–[CDATA[Loneliness affects everyone at some point in our lives. For seniors, however, loneliness can severely undermine their health. According to research by the University of California, San Francisco, isolated seniors have a 59% greater risk of mental and physical decline.
Loneliness occurs in us all for a myriad of reasons, but as you care for your aging loved ones, keep an eye on the following warnings signs and take action to alleviate their pain.
- Change in call frequency. Both the increase and decrease in communication may indicate your loved one feels lonely.
- Recently became a widow.
- Changes to the neighborhood. Have longtime neighbors moved away?
- Loss of driving ability. This loss can affect her sense of independence and may keep her from easily meeting with friends and family.
- Not leaving the house as frequently as they once did.
- Lack of appetite.
- Friends have passed away recently.
- Excessively long and hot showers. A Yale University study concluded that people will use physical warmth, such as hot showers, as a substitute for human connection.
- Purchasing habits increase. Data from the Journal of Consumer Research finds that people who buy a lot of material goods suffer from loneliness. Lonely seniors may replace social connections with material goods.
- Speaking of friends and family who she hasn’t seen with a sense of longing. While this could be a sign she just misses someone, it could also point to a general state of loneliness.
Tips on Preventing Loneliness
If you believe your loved one may be susceptible to loneliness, take a proactive approach to preventing loneliness:
- Take the time to visit and listen.
- Prevent seclusion or isolation.
- Create family moments to connect her with your children.
- Ask your loved one’s doctor to check her vitamin D and B12 levels as well as thyroid activity.
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