Senior Loneliness: 5 Warning Signs
Lack of interaction with others can lead to anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, heart diseases, and other health risks. Therefore, it is essential to recognize when a loved one may be feeling isolated.
Aging comes with the possibility of a range of health problems. These can range from minor inconveniences to serious health problems, which means someone may require additional support. However, one of the most common and problematic issues that come with growing old is increasing isolation and loneliness.
Loneliness can have more severe consequences than most people think. People are designed to be social, so a lack of interaction with others can lead to anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, heart diseases, and other health risks. Therefore, it is essential to recognize when a loved one may be feeling isolated and not getting enough social interaction. If you don't know what to look for, we've outlined some warning signs which could indicate an elderly person needs support.
Loneliness is often accompanied by a loss of appetite leading to weight loss. On the other hand, loneliness can lead to comfort eating and gaining weight. If you notice a sudden increase or decrease in someone's weight and they don't have a new medical condition that could cause this, you should check in to see if they are getting enough social interaction.
Unusual attachment to things
One sign of loneliness is an increase in emotional attachment to objects. Some objects are, of course, sentimental for very personal reasons. Suppose you notice an aging relative suddenly become very attached to cleaning their car, keeping their lawn in shape, or suddenly giving a lot of care and affection to another object. In that case, this can indicate that they are not getting enough affection from people. Lonely people will transfer feelings of affection onto items if they do not see people enough. They may also shop for things more as a way to replace the attachment to people.
Unwillingness to socialize
A somewhat contradictory warning sign of loneliness is not wanting to socialize. Feeling lonely can be a very isolating experience which will make an elderly person want to be alone and have no desire to spend time with others. If you notice someone who used to be very social, making excuses to not attend events or leave early, this could be a sign of underlying isolation and loneliness.
Extreme tiredness in social situations
If you see an elderly family member in a social situation and it appears to be draining them, this is often a sign they need more, not less social interaction. Chronic loneliness can make it difficult and exhausting when interacting. Try to make sure they're not overwhelmed and let them spend time in small groups or with one other person rather than in a large group.
Living in the past
Seniors who have lost loved ones and miss these emotional connections may well spend time reminiscing the past. If a senior person spends too much time talking about the past and past events, they may well not be getting enough social interaction. Social interactions help us look to the future, and without these, we can get stuck in the past and feel lonely and isolated from those around us.