Your aging mother died a few months ago after a long illness, leaving your elderly father alone in the house they once shared. Ever since mom’s death, dad just hasn’t been the same and you suspect he may be suffering from loneliness. He’s not eating right, keeping up his appearance, and has even stopped meeting his friends for morning coffee.
Chronic loneliness affects millions of seniors every year and its impact upon one’s health can be devastating, notably for those who live by themselves. If you suspect that your dad is lonely, try cheering him up using these ideas from the experts.
Why Do Seniors Feel Lonely?
The number one reason that older people get lonely is the loss of a spouse. In addition, psychologists have identified these loneliness risk factors within the elderly population:
- Death of a close friend or relative
- Declining physical health
- Social isolation caused by incontinence, immobility or lack of transportation
- Low self-esteem
- Not feeling wanted or needed anymore
- Hearing or vision loss
Chronic Loneliness Causes Poor Health
Human beings are social creatures, so feeling chronically lonely can cause some serious secondary health problems, like:
- An increased risk for dementia
- Depression and even suicidal thoughts
- Alcohol and drug dependency, or even addiction
- A greater likelihood for falling, including serious falls
- Poor nutrition
- Sleeping difficulties and insomnia
- A higher risk for hospitalizations
- Slower healing times when sick or recovering from surgery
When it comes to your dad, these potential health issues can eventually start threatening his at-home freedom and independence. Fortunately, there are several proven ways to help him get his life back on track again.
Helping Dad Feel Good Again
Because of the circumstances, dad’s loneliness will take time to overcome. First, gently approach him about what you’ve observed and why it’s a concern, and then offer your love and support. Once dad’s willing to accept some help, try encouraging him to participate in these activities so that he can replace those negative emotions with pos