Especially right now, people are spending more time isolated from others than ever before. Many of us, however, live with family members and perhaps communicate with colleagues via video, text, and email. This is not necessarily the case for our seniors.
It is important to note that your loved one can be lonely even when they have people coming and going in their life each day. And with short-term memory issues, their perception of how often they see you or other loved ones can be altered so that they are lonely even moments after you’ve left.
Signs of Loneliness
Some of the signs to watch for, both in yourself and in your loved ones, include:
- Inability to connect except on a very superficial level
- No close or “best” friends
- A feeling of isolation, even when in a group
- Exhaustion in social situations
- A continual feeling of being drained or unmotivated
Tips to Help Ease Loneliness
Setting your senior up with technology for video chatting, while not a replacement for a live person, can help in those moments where they just need a friendly face.
Your loved one may feel a daily caregiver is only there for chores and not for companionship. See if your caregiver can schedule in time just to sit and chat to help them feel heard and cared for. And if you aren’t sure this is a valuable use of their paid time, these casual conversations could yield medical information that you might not know about otherwise.
Your senior also can feel lonely because they do not feel like they are a productive member of society. Connecting them, even virtually, with your local senior center or religious organization can help them find a niche.
As we move back to a time of less isolation, ensure that your senior can get to small gatherings. Often a lack of transportation and their desire not to burden you will add to their feelings of isolation and loneliness.