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Battling the Blues in the Elderly

Loneliness can strike anyone, but the elderly are especially susceptible to it and the detrimental effect it can have on their quality and length of life.  Waning physical and mental health, the reality of living in a nursing home or assisted living facility, and a lack of engaging communication with family can all contribute to feelings of loneliness. Not only does loneliness increase the rate of physical and mental decline in the elderly, it also increases their risk of death. Consider the following statistics from AgingCare.com’s article The Elderly Loneliness Epidemic:

  • A study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) found that 18% of seniors live alone, and 43% report feeling lonely on a regular basis.
  • The same UCSF study found that people over 60 years of age who reported feeling lonely had a 45% increase in their risk for death and a 59% greater risk of mental and physical decline than their more social counterparts.
  • According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 7 people with Alzheimer’s disease live alone.
  • Psychologists from the University of Chicago who analyzed data from the Farmingham Heart Study, a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular study, found that lonely elderly people often encourage further isolation by pushing people away with their actions and lack of social engagement with others.

If your elderly loved one feels lonely, there are many things you can do to help them feel reconnected.  Become a better listener and encourage them to rediscover previous passions.  While they may not be physically able to do everything they once could, try to find ways for them to engage in hobbies they were passionate about.  Embrace their knowledge by asking them to teach you something they know about, be it knitting, photography, or world history.  Have your children ask their grandparents about their lives.  Little things like a phone call or card can mean so much and don’t require too much effort on your part.

 

AgingCare.com is a leading online community that connects people

caring for elderly parents to other caregivers, personalized

information, and local resources. AgingCare.com has become the trusted

resource for exchanging ideas, sharing conversations and finding

credible information for those seeking elder care solutions. For more

information, visit www.agingcare.com.