14/07/2020 by Kim Stevens 0 Comments
How To Deal With Loneliness As We Get Older
As you age it’s understandable that feelings of loneliness and isolation might increase. Your children grow and fly the nest - possibly further afield than you’d like - to start their own lives and families, and it could be weeks, or even months, between visits. Your friends and acquaintances might start new jobs in new towns, and, as much as everyone always says they’ll stay in touch, that can be easier said than done at times. And, worst of all, as you age so do those around you - and maybe some of those you were close to have now passed away.
But you don’t have to let these feelings of isolation get the better of you! It is possible to get yourself into a positive mindset and deal with loneliness simply by changing your day to day habits and engaging in some new activities.
For the vast majority of people, loneliness ranks higher than financial or health worries when it comes to their fears about getting older, so what can you do to combat loneliness and keep living life to the fullest?
Further reading Explaining dementia to children a guide
Get Out There! Loneliness As We Get Older Should Be Highlighted
If you’re already feeling lonely and isolated, sitting indoors and staring at the same four walls really isn’t going to help. Getting out and about - even just in your immediate area - will hugely improve your mental health and well-being. And you don’t have to go somewhere fancy - even just walking to a local park or shopping centre is great exercise; or maybe you live in a concrete jungle, surrounded by tower blocks and cityscapes - not very inspiring perhaps?
Choose to see the beauty in everything around you - unleash your artistic flair and take up drawing or painting - or even photography. Taking up a hobby such as these will encourage you to continue observing the world around you, while still getting out into the world.
Maybe you’re able to travel to another town, or city, or country even! Sightseeing somewhere new will make you feel connected to the world around you, and even the smallest social experience can improve our mental health.
Get Healthy In Older Age
Loneliness and isolation often causes us to ignore our physical and psychological well-being as we may feel ignored and uncared for, and it can be tempting to indulge in unhealthy habits such as drinking, smoking, and eating junk food. Why not consider joining a gym or taking up another form of exercise? We all know that physical activity can boost our mood and immune system, plus it can be a great way of meeting new people with similar goals and interests.
Another great perk of being physically fit and healthy is that it stimulates the brain, keeping it active and feeling young. Plus it will release hormones that make you feel more positive and focused. Staying active can be hard for older people, particularly if they have issues with mobility, but there are plenty of places that run exercise classes catering for seniors, and even gentle exercise such as walking or swimming can make all the difference.
Get Creative To Reduce Loneliness
I touched on this briefly earlier, but activities such as painting, writing or playing music are all great for your mental health and for easing feelings of loneliness and giving your brain a boost! And it doesn’t have to be a solo affair - why not join an art or music class? It’s a chance not only to learn a new skill, but to meet new people.
When it comes to ways of being creative, the sky’s the limit - jewellery making, pottery, even cookery - and they all come with challenges and rewards that give you something to focus on, which in turn alleviates boredom and feelings of isolation.
Think About Your Life’s Accomplishments
As we get older we look back on our lives and think about the things we’ve done - and the things we haven’t. For elderly people this can often exacerbate feelings of loneliness as it’s inevitable that in reflecting on times past we think of things we wished we’d done differently.
This is where a change of mindset can help - don’t think about what you don’t have or didn’t do, think about what you do have and did do. It might be easier said than done, but take time to think about the positive things in life - your family and friends, achievements in your professional life, events and activities that you’ve been a part of - and those you will be a part of in the future.
Become a Volunteer
Volunteering is a great way for older people who perhaps don’t have any family or friends around them to integrate with their local community. Helping other people gives a great sense of satisfaction as you contribute to making their lives a little brighter.
Again, this is a great way to not only showcase your talents in a variety of ways, but also to meet other people who are also interested in serving their community. Forging new friendships is a surefire way to beat those lonely feelings.
Adopt A Pet
The benefits of having a pet, for any age group, are well-documented, but for older people they can literally become a life line. Studies show that pet owners have lower blood pressure and are less likely to suffer from depression than non pet owners, and of course they’re good company and great listeners!
Having a pet to care for gives those who are feeling lonely or isolated a sense of purpose - you have to get out of bed to walk or feed your pet; someone is dependent on you, and it doesn’t matter that they have fur or feathers instead!
The RSPCA is a great local place to adopt pets from.
How Can Care In kent Help?
Loneliness will affect most people at some time in their lives, but for older people the impact can be much worse as mental health and even cognitive function can be seriously affected. If you or someone you know is struggling, give some of our tips a go and see how some positive changes to your outlook and habits can be beneficial for both body and mind.