Causes and Antidotes
As we are Gracefully Greying, loneliness can be an issue. This is especially true if we have lost a spouse, family member, or good friends. Grief, depression, and loneliness often go hand in hand. It is important to recognizing our feelings and develop ways to deal with loneliness that can accompany loss. According to the Center for Disease Control, “Loneliness is the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact. Social isolation is a lack of social connections. Social isolation can lead to loneliness in some people, while others can feel lonely without being socially isolated.”
Causes of Loneliness
Feeling isolated and losing control of your physical, mental, or cognitive environment can lead to depression and loneliness. Many factors can contribute to these feelings, including moving from a home to an assisted living facility, having to stop driving, or having friends and family move away. It is important to grieve following the loss of a loved one or close friend, in fact, many believe that it takes at least a year of going through life cycle events such as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays to fully mourn the loss of a loved one. As people age, they often have a feeling of helplessness - that their days are more and more numbered, which can lead to a feeling of depression and isolation.
Antidotes to Loneliness
Some ways to combat loneliness seem simple and putting them into practice can be quite helpful. Making new friends and staying active and busy can help. Remind yourself to look for positives, even if they are small. If you are moving to an assisted living facility, see it as an opportunity to make new acquaintances and embrace the activities that are offered. Stay in touch with friends and family through modern technology and through the old-fashioned way by picking up the phone and calling family and friends. Let go of grudges and grievances. If you are really suffering, consider meeting with a therapist even for a short time. Remind yourself to live every day as fully as you can, and try to be positive.
AgingInPlace.org published an interesting article 6 things To Do When Dealing With Loneliness At An Old Age which taps into positive actions such as exploration, creativity, paying attention to your health, volunteering, being appreciative toward others, and even adopting a pet.
Please take the time to view this interview with psychiatrist Joel Young of the Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine, as he discusses how to protect your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
We would love to hear from you - please share your experiences and tips with us, as we build gracefully greying together.