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Shot of a senior man using his digital tablet while relaxing at home
February 7, 2020

5 Ways to Decrease Senior Loneliness

According to the National Poll on Healthy Aging, an estimated one-third of seniors are lonely. Contributing factors can include lack of transportation, loved ones moving, and close friends passing away. While loneliness significantly impacts the emotional health of elders, it also plays a direct role in their cognitive functioning and physical well-being. Furthermore, the poll suggests that “chronic loneliness may shorten life expectancy even more than being overweight or sedentary, and just as much as smoking.” What are the different ways seniors can combat loneliness in their lives? 

Start a hobby. Often, when older adults reach retirement age, the feeling of restlessness can arise. Seniors can channel that restless energy into something productive by learning something new. Hobbies have been found to impact physical health, improve sleep, lower stress, and assist in making friends. Whether the hobby is studying an unfamiliar language, traveling more, or taking a dance class, engaging in new activities is a great way for seniors to expand their horizons and their network.

Volunteer. Volunteering isn’t just beneficial for those on the receiving end; it’s been proven to be beneficial to the volunteer, too. Greater Good Magazine writes that a study of more than 200 seniors “reported significant improvements in their mental health, along with other socioemotional benefits ranging from a greater feeling of productivity to increased social activity to an overall sense that their life had improved.” 

When searching for volunteer opportunities, older adults should consider activities they’re interested in, causes they would like to contribute toward, and ultimately, how they would like to make a difference. To find local opportunities to volunteer, older adults can visit the Corporation of National and Community Service.

Use technology. With the advancements in smartphones, video calling, and social media, connecting with others has never been easier. As stated in a  2017 Pew Research Center Study, “34 percent of Americans ages 65 and up . . . use social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. This represents a seven-point increase from 2013, when 27 percent  of older adults reported using social media.” 

If an older adult isn’t tech-savvy, but is willing to learn, they can visit their local library for technology courses. Additionally, some smartphone companies offer to teach customers how to use their devices through in-store classes and workshops. 

Adopt a pet. Pets have a unique way of offering comfort and companionship to their owners, and they have been known to decrease stress and lower blood pressure. If an older adult doesn’t want to take on the responsibility of becoming a full-time pet owner, there are opportunities to foster pets or volunteer at local pet shelters. 

Move to a senior living community. There are a myriad of benefits to transitioning to a senior living community. These benefits include fewer responsibilities, such as paying bills or caring for a home; around the clock care; an abundance of fun activities; and the chance to connect with others. Senior living communities are constantly active with visiting family members, staff, and other seniors. To build connections, older adults can participate in the day-to-day programming provided by the activities team and sit with others during meal times. The more a senior is involved, the quicker relationships can develop. 

If you or your loved one is looking to connect with other older adults, why not consider moving to a senior living community? Wherever you are on your senior living journey, we’re here to help you every step of the way. Connect with one of our care consultants today.

References 

Technology Use Among Seniors
Greater Good Magazine
One in Three Seniors is Lonely. Here’s How It’s Hurting Their Health 
Corporation of National and Community Service

About the Author 

Aleshia Patterson serves as the digital and social media manager for Provision Living Senior Communities. Her strength is in developing digital marketing strategies, streamlining content, and enhancing digital engagement. She holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis and a master's degree in communication arts from Webster University.