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Senior Living July 18, 2017

Five ways to prevent loneliness in loved ones during senior living years

By: Country Meadows | Senior Living, Wellness

Many American retirees today lead busy, socially active lives, more so than those of any previous generation. But that’s not the case for millions of American seniors.

The Pew Research Center has reported that one in six Americans over 65 described their lives as lonely. Though both men and women are affected by loneliness, statistics show that women tend to be more likely candidates. According to the U.S. Administration on Aging:

  • Of Americans over 65, 28 percent live alone; of just women, though, 46 percent live alone.
  • Of men over 65, 72 percent are married. Just 45 percent of women are married; 37 percent are widowed.

The effects of loneliness

Loneliness generally grows from a sense of isolation, with several related causes: a declining network of friends and family, health issues (fear of falling, fatigue, chronic pain, memory loss) and limited access to transportation. Any of these changes can be powerfully unsettling, particularly for seniors who remember clearly their days of health, independence and socialization.

Five ways to help someone overcome loneliness, a web community for caregivers, suggests that concerned family members take these steps to assist someone dealing with loneliness:

  • Help your loved ones become more social-media savvy. For example, Facebook is easy to use and aids plenty of older adults in staying connected with friends and family. An experienced friend or relative could provide a friendly tutoring session or two on learning the basics.
  • Encourage them not to live alone. The fellowship of living with others is known to counter loneliness. Support them in looking into the possibility of retirement home living where there are countless ways to socialize.
  • Set up transportation options. Your Area Agency on Aging may have a list of resources, while friends and relatives would likely assist with “taxi service.”
  • Help them find support groups. Meeting others who are challenged by similar health or bereavement issues can be beneficial and consoling. Many senior living communities host such groups that are open to the public.
  • If they show signs of depression, urge them to seek treatment from a physician, just as with any medical condition. Reassure them that they’re not alone—depression affects people of all ages. About 13 percent, of older adults in the United States experience depression, but only one in 10 of them receives treatment.

Senior communities can aid in reversing loneliness

A community lifestyle, like that offered by Country Meadows Retirement Communities, improves the mental health of many seniors. Activities available at an active senior living community provide a positive environment, fellowship with others and a personal sense of accomplishment. We invite you to read about the benefits of socialization at a retirement community.

Some residents discover that just knowing concerned neighbors and staff are nearby decreases their loneliness. This is true of those living in our senior independent living communities as well as those in our personal care and assisted living homes.

For Country Meadows residents whose loneliness or depression is related to the isolation of dementia, our Connections Memory Support Services program can help in coping with the challenges of memory loss.

If you’re planning an active retirement in a Pennsylvania or Maryland retirement community, we hope you will visit one or more of our senior living communities, where you will find residents with full lives in a family-oriented, caring environment. Country Meadows has 10 retirement communities in Pennsylvania as well as a Frederick, Maryland retirement home. Please schedule a visit so that we can acquaint you with our vast array of services.

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