How do we combat loneliness as we age?

We become more vulnerable to feelings of loneliness and isolation as we age. This can happen for a number of reasons, be it through the passing of a partner, retiring and leaving the workplace, or being restricted through disability and illness. But how do we combat loneliness as we age?

Connection to others is an essential component of self-care, and the longer we allow ourselves to be isolated, the harder it may be to reach out and connect in the future. Bringing others into your life may seem difficult or impossible, but there are achievable steps you can take to provide support when you feel lonely and to create connections with those around you.

Why do we feel lonely as we age?

Over a million older people will go over a month without speaking to friends, family, or neighbours according to Age UK. Even those who do interact with others more frequently are still faced with feelings of isolation.

Loneliness in those over the age of 60 is often experienced more frequently and for different reasons than in younger people. Common reasons people may feel lonelier as they age include:

Retiring and leaving the workplace: Retirement is often looked forward to. However, transitioning out of the workforce can lead to feelings of a lack of purpose and social isolation. The change in routine can also be particularly hard, leaving many feeling lost and unfulfilled.

The best way to combat this loneliness is to embrace the change. Give yourself space to grieve the passing of your former life while encouraging yourself on future possibilities. Join community groups or commit a portion of your time to give back through charity or volunteering.

Mobility issues: Your social interactions can become much more limited if you are struggling to walk independently or drive on your own. A lack of mobility may keep you from visiting family or going to different events.

Mobility aids can help combat loneliness by giving you a way to move around independently. Electric wheelchairs, mobility scooters, or walking frames can help you access your community and keep you connected.

Disability issues: Similar to mobility issues, disabilities can also limit how you interact with those around you. Depending on the disability, you may be unable to access certain locations. However, the lack of independence can be incredibly isolating on its own.

The support of a live-in-carer can be incredibly helpful in these moments. They will be able to arrange trips out, assist with food shopping, personal care, and allow you to live with much more independence.

Losing a spouse or partner: The passing of a partner is incredibly difficult to overcome. Not only will you be missing the one who has passed, but your grief may also leave you more isolated from your friends and family than you were before.

Avoid cutting yourself off from those who love you. It may be too difficult to talk about your loss. However, your friends and family can still provide support by being with you while you grieve.

Another important tip is to focus on self-care. Feelings of loneliness can increase stress and anxiety levels and have a big impact on overall health. Look after yourself when feeling lonely and take extra care to monitor how you feel in both in mind and body.

A change in family dynamics: It’s common for family dynamics to change over time. Your children may move away, have a family of their own, and form their own lives. It can be difficult to see or contact family when they are no longer nearby.

Luckily, there are now digital ways to stay connected to your loved ones no matter the distance. Different devices and video chat services can allow you to see your family’s faces as often as you would like. Companies, such as Doro, make easy-to-use technology solutions, like smartphones for seniors, that can make digital interactions much easier. Amazon also offers a range of devices with hands-free video calling and messaging systems.

Whatever the reason, your loneliness can have a huge impact on our mental and physical health. Make sure that you have the support you need, be it through a charity, family, friends, or a live-in carer. To see if live-in care may be right for you, see this guide.

Have you noticed feeling more isolated as you age? How do you help yourself when you feel lonely? Do let us know how you combat loneliness as you age.


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