While people report feeling lonely at different stages of life, a recent study identified three peak ages for a higher risk of severe loneliness. According to International Psychogeriatrics, one of those peak ages happens in the late 80’s. Seniors reported more isolation and loneliness at that age more than almost any other time in their life. This is important information for family caregivers as they work hard to meet their aging loved one’s emotional and physical needs.
Why Seniors Become So Lonely
In their late 80s, aging adults are faced with numerous factors that can influence how social they are. When health issues slow them down and cause them to withdraw from common activities, it can reinforce that isolation. Because they are a couple of decades from retirement, they’ve likely lost contact with lots of old friends, and many of their peers and loved ones, including their spouse, have likely passed on. Combine that with adult children and grandchildren who often live far away, and it becomes the perfect conditions for extremely lonely seniors.
Family Caregivers May Not Be Enough Social Interaction
Family caregivers do the best they can to give their aging loved one all the assistance they need as they age in place at their own home. They often attend to the physical needs, such as bathing, dressing and grooming Family caregivers also focus on the home’s needs, like cleaning, cooking and repairs. While family caregivers may think it’s enough for their aging loved one to interact with them daily, many people need more social interaction in different settings. In other words, family caregivers should recognize that they need to arrange for their aging loved one to socialize more to alleviate their chronic loneliness.
Loneliness Can Be Unhealthy
When it comes to chronic loneliness, there are numerous studies that reveal the negative effect it has on a person’s health and wellness. In their late 80s, many seniors are already challenged by illness, injury and age-related health conditions. Extreme loneliness can lead to a weakened immune system, chronic stress, depression and even accelerate dementia. In fact, loneliness is so impactful in some elderly adults that many medical professionals consider it a leading contributor to early death. Family caregivers must take action to ensure their aging relative is not suffering from extreme loneliness.
How to Ease Loneliness
Family caregivers have several options when it comes to helping aging relatives avoid loneliness. The best option is to hire an elder care provider to come regularly to help around the house and assist the aging adult. Elder care providers are professional and experienced, making them ideal companions to lonely seniors. They can run errands, do puzzles and board games or enjoy books and movies together.
Senior care providers can also work with seniors to get them to attend community events, such as activities at the senior center, community theater, a movie, a museum or even a sporting event. These experienced senior care providers know the importance of engaging with others, so they have plenty of ideas on how to help aging adults do so. Eliminating the obstacles to loneliness leads to happier and healthier seniors.
If you or a loved one are considering Senior Care Services near Paradise PA, contact the caring staff at Extended Family Care of Lancaster. Call today at (717) 205-2174.
A long-time resident of Lancaster County, Mary Lynne enjoys spending time with her husband Terry, and their 3 horses and collies. The countless hours of caring for her client and employee-based “family” at work and at home can truly depict the selfless character of Mary Lynne Heller. Mary Lynne is a Google Verified Author
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