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Loneliness Counts: The Psychological Impact Of Loneliness In Older People And How To Overcome It

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By Author: Tushar
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Humans are social beings who need social interactions and connections to lead happy and healthy lives. Social isolation and loneliness can, therefore, cause a lot of emotional, mental, and physical problems.

And, as older people are more prone to loneliness and social isolation, because of a lack of active lifestyle, they are more at risk.

In this post, we will discuss how loneliness can affect the physical, emotional, and mental health of the elderly and how to overcome it.
The Psychological Implications of Loneliness
Chronic loneliness and social isolation can manifest in the form of both physical and mental problems in the elderly. Caregivers, therefore, need to be alert and observant enough to notice any irregularities in the behavior or health of the elder they are responsible for.

Here are some of the common problems that are associated with loneliness and are more prevalent in socially isolated elders.

Chronic loneliness could cause cardiovascular problems
Loneliness is one of the biggest causes of depression in older people.
It can disrupt your eating habits, which may cause unusual weight gain or loss.
Lonely people tend to have more stress than the average person.
Loneliness is also associated with a higher mortality rate among the aged.
It can also lead to a whole lot of emotional and mental health problems.
The risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia increases in elders who are also suffering from loneliness and social isolation.
And, worst of all, being socially isolated can make them more vulnerable to elder abuse.
Tips for Overcoming Loneliness
A lot has been said and published about the “so-called” treatment for loneliness. However, loneliness is not really a physical state that one can avoid by simply being around people. Loneliness is actually a state of mind and we need to understand that and tackle it accordingly.

This is why it is important that the concerned person also take charge and try to overcome this actively. In this section, we will discuss how older people suffering from loneliness can overcome it and how we, as caregivers, can help them.
What They Can Do
These are some of the things that the elderly can do to combat feelings of loneliness and to have better social connections.
One of the best ways to avoid feelings of loneliness is to adopt a pet that acts like a companion.
Having a hobby that can be actively pursued also helps combat feelings of loneliness and lead an active life. And, if such activities are done in a group setting, they provide a platform for social interactions as well.
It also helps to have a few friends and planning some group activity or get-togethers from time to time. It could be something as simple as going for a walk together or going to the park on some days of the week.
Volunteering for a social cause is another great way to combat loneliness. It not only provides an opportunity for social interaction but also increases feelings of self-worth and happiness.
How We Can Help
Here are some of the things that caregivers, friends, and relatives of old people suffering from loneliness can do to help.

Visit your grandparents or other older relatives as often as you can to show them that you care.
If frequent visits are not feasible at least call them and talk to them on a regular basis.
Encourage them to take up an activity, stay active, and go out on a regular basis.
Help them perform their household chores if they are having trouble with it.
If they are living with your family, encourage them to teach the children or give some small chores to make them feel involved and useful.
Final Thoughts
Our elders are important to us and they should be treated in a way that shows our love and respect for them. Sometimes we get busy and the elders in our lives feel lonely and neglected. It is our duty to make them feel like they are still an integral part of our lives.

And, for all those who are not lucky enough to stay with their families, we at HelpAge India do our best to empower elder lives. If you want to help the elderly in our country lead an active and healthy life, make a donation to our NGO.

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