It’s perfectly natural to feel lonely from time to time. However, for seniors, loneliness can be a more significant problem. Due to retirement, declining health, the death of loved ones, and other factors, seniors may find themselves constantly feeling isolated and alone. Unfortunately, it has been shown that lonely seniors are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. They are also at greater risk for developing chronic conditions such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
If you are a senior or if you have a loved one who is a senior, it is important to be aware of the signs of loneliness. By recognizing the signs, you can take steps to address the issue and improve their quality of life.
A Decline in Personal Hygiene
A decline in personal hygiene is a common sign of loneliness. Seniors who are feeling lonely may stop caring about their appearance.
Imagine that you work in a retirement community and you notice that one of the residents, Mrs. Saunders, has stopped taking care of her appearance. Her hair is unbrushed, her clothes are wrinkled, and she doesn’t seem to be bathing regularly.
This decline in personal hygiene may be a sign that Mrs. Saunders is feeling lonely. Lonely seniors often don’t have anyone to help them with these tasks. They also typically feel like they don’t need to bother with taking care of their appearance.
Changes in Sleeping Patterns
Another common sign of loneliness is changing sleep patterns.
Maybe you have an elderly parent who used to go to bed at a regular time and sleep through the night. However, lately, you notice that they are up all hours of the night, and instead nod off at breakfast.
Lonely seniors may find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night. These changes are likely because loneliness can cause anxiety and stress, two things that make it difficult to sleep.
Changes in Appetite
Changes in appetite is yet another common sign of loneliness.
Do you have an elderly grandfather who used to have a hearty appetite and who always looked forward to his meals? Has he lost a lot of weight lately and doesn’t seem to be interested in food? This change in appetite may be a sign that your grandfather is feeling lonely and is subsequently not getting enough nutrition.
Seniors who are feeling lonely may either lose their appetite in response to anxiety or they may overeat in response to isolation as a way to pass the time.
These are some of the common signs of loneliness in seniors. If you notice any of these signs in a senior citizen, it may be indicative of a larger problem. Consider reaching out to their doctor or another medical professional for help. Additionally, there are many resources available to help lonely seniors, such as senior centers, adult daycare programs, and home health services. With the right support, seniors can overcome loneliness and enjoy a high quality of life.