Signs That a Senior Is Lonely
March 4, 2021
Does your mother ask you to stay a little longer whenever you visit? Does she start new conversations as you are trying to walk out the door?
Those are definite signs of loneliness in the elderly, and they may be the only signs you will see. Old people are often very proud and independent. Admitting to being lonely might be difficult because a senior could see that admission as a sign of weakness.
Who Is Most Likely to Be Lonely?
A recent survey of home care nurses shows that loneliness varies from one elderly individual to the next. Some seniors live rich and full lives, mostly on their own, with only brief visits from friends, caregivers, and home care aides. In other words, just because someone spends a lot of time alone doesn’t necessarily mean she minds it.
Some elderly people are delighted with all the alone time. They have time to read, write in their journals, eat simple meals, pet their cats, and watch exactly what they want on Netflix without having to accommodate the needs of others.
However, there were some patterns to loneliness. Nurses noticed that the following people were more likely to suffer the ill effects of social isolation:
Those with mobility issues. Disabilities make it harder for some seniors to get out of the house. At the point that they depend on the voluntary visits of others, they can start to feel both lonely and helpless. By contrast, elderly people who go where they want at will are less likely to be truly lonely.
Very old seniors. As people age, their social circles can narrow. People in their sixties and early seventies are more likely to engage friends regularly and attend social events.
Those with hearing or visual impairments. Being partly or wholly blind or deaf is very isolating. Even in a room full of people, an old person can feel lonely because of difficulty following conversations and picking up on body language and facial expressions. Hearing and vision loss are so frustrating to many seniors that they often withdraw from social activities. But that does not necessarily mean they thrive in isolation.
Loneliness Is Difficult to Talk About
Surveyed nurses report that it’s difficult to talk to seniors about loneliness, and it can be difficult to get full disclosure on the subject.
A lot of people avoid asking a senior if she’s lonely because they fear the answer. If the senior says, “yes,” now it’s difficult to walk out the door. To ask is to be part of the solution. Many caregivers simply don’t have the time to fully address the issue of a parent’s social isolation.
Caregivers and even home nurses sometimes hesitate to ask a senior if she’s lonely because the question seems intrusive, personal, or even insulting. And many seniors will deny being lonely while clearly exhibiting some negative effects of social isolation.
Home Care Is a Clinical Need
The medical industry has not yet caught up to the fact that companionship is a medical need for some seniors. But there is plenty of scientific evidence that social isolation can quickly become a medical problem for many older Americans.
Home care is one of the best solutions to social isolation among seniors. Home care professionals can be directed specifically to focus on providing conversation and social engagement to seniors who may still be able to manage their own cooking and bathing.
In conclusion, social isolation in seniors is a complex matter, and those seniors who need more social engagement may not admit to it. If you have not already hired home care, it is a good time to consider it. Talk to your home care aides about the need for social engagement and brainstorm ways to keep your senior mentally and emotionally engaged with life.
If you or your loved one is looking for a Caregiver in Santa Cruz, CA, please call Familiar Surroundings Home Care.
Santa Clara County: (408) 979-9990
San Mateo County: (650) 353-9777
Santa Cruz County: (831) 480-3990