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How to Cope with Loneliness in Older Age

Posted by rafael on December 17, 2012 in Relationships

Due to the many modern medical advancements of today, the average lifespan of healthy humans has risen. As a result, the number of elderly has grown significantly. Loneliness can be a real issue for many of the elderly, as friends and spouses may pass away and grown children move far across the country. The majority of the elderly end up living alone: By the year 2020, an estimated 13.3 million elderly will be living by themselves. Though the loneliness that comes with aging can be a legitimate and serious concern, there are several ways to cope with it.

Health Concerns of Loneliness

Loneliness is more than just feeling sad and isolated. In fact, it has been linked to depression and suicide, as well as a number of other health issues, like cardiovascular disease, stroke, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s and high blood pressure. It is also thought to increase antisocial behaviour and result in poor decision-making.

Prepare for Retirement

One of the first steps to coping with loneliness is to prepare for it. Many people cringe at the idea of living in a retirement home, but the truth is that it may become a necessity. Take the time to seek out a facility that has a friendly staff, many activities and allows patrons the freedom of coming and going. Preparing for this step of life can make the transition much easier, and reduce the chances of dealing with loneliness.

Loneliness in Older Age-1

Loneliness in Older Age-1

Keep Busy

Find ways to stay active. Pick up a hobby or find ways to get involved with the community. Get involved in a social group or club, or take classes through a local church or the library. Learning something new, like another language or a hobby like woodworking, is a great way to keep the mind active as well as meet other people. By staying active and keeping the mind busy, there is less time to begin dwelling on loneliness. People who spend their days daydreaming, sleeping and watching TV tend to be more lonely than those who keep busy through a variety of activities.

Help Others

Helping others and giving back is another way to cope with loneliness. Volunteering often helps make people feel better about themselves, and a positive attitude like this can help combat loneliness. Helping others can take many forms, from devoting time to a specific organization to sitting and talking with someone else who may be lonely. The act of helping others can bring a sense of purpose and fulfilment to life.

Loneliness in Older Age-2

Loneliness in Older Age-2

Utilize the Internet

The Internet is a helpful tool for dealing with loneliness, particularly when getting out of the house becomes difficult. Social communities geared toward the elderly, hobbies or games are plentiful. In addition to these social communities, there are hundreds of resources for learning new things or taking online classes. Even if it’s done through the computer, participating in this type of community can significantly reduce the effects of loneliness.

Loneliness can become a debilitating problem, but it can be helped. By preparing for it, staying active, helping others and finding an online community, the negative consequences of loneliness can be prevented.

Nisha represents a site called MHA.org.uk. She enjoys writing about elderly health and fashion.

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