As we age we have to contend with many changes to our health and lifestyle and as friends pass away we struggle with loneliness because we have fewer opportunities to develop new friendships due to limited mobility or financial issues.
Loneliness is hard on a person’s health and studies show that loneliness significantly increases the risk for death and other adverse outcomes.
“Studies have found rates of loneliness in older populations to range from 20% – 60%, and many researchers have noted associations with poor health and well being. Some, for instance, have found that older individuals who are very lonely are at increased risk for nursing home placement. Others have found that a poor self-rating of health distinguishes those who are lonely in older age from those who are not, and psychological well-being has generally been seen to be related to a supportive social network”
– Source: http://www.pwhce.ca/effectSocialIsolation
Here are a few strategies for reducing loneliness;
Stay Connected – It is important to keep in contact with surviving friends and family either by regular telephone conversation or by inviting them to activities or events. If you have few or no friends consider joining a club and if you’re shy start by saying “hello” to a person on the bus or at the store to build your courage. If you think most people are too busy or too cold to engage in conversation with a stranger consider this amazing story of Ms Blomeyer. She depends entirely on the kindness of strangers to get her to and from her favourite restaurant every day.
Hire a companion – A companion can help you prepare meals, drive you to appointments and provide you with social stimulation.
Neighbourhood Houses and Seniors Centres – These settings provide seniors with a social atmosphere where you can be entertained, hang out and participate in a wide range of activities or do nothing but just people watch.
Adopt a pet – Owning a pet provides companionship 24/7 and will motivate you to stay active by taking daily walks to the local park.
Volunteer – just ask, you never know how you might help others.