The most recent U.S. census data shows that more than a quarter of the population lives alone – the highest rate ever recorded. Being alone does not necessarily herald loneliness, and living with someone may not stave it off. However, being alone can lend itself to undiagnosed loneliness and its partner, depression.
Especially right now, people are spending more time isolated from others than ever before. Many of us, however, live with family members and perhaps communicate with colleagues via video, text, and email. This is not necessarily the case for our seniors.
It is important to note that your loved one can be lonely even when they have people coming and going in their life each day. And with short-term memory issues, their perception of how often they see you or other loved ones can be altered so that they are lonely even moments after you’ve left.
As you are talking to your loved ones during the upcoming holidays, be on the lookout for these signs of loneliness:
- Inability to connect except on a very superficial level
- No close or “best” friends
- A feeling of isolation, even when in a group
- Exhaustion in social situations
- A continual feeling of being drained or unmotivated
Setting your senior up with technology for video chatting, while not a replacement for a live person, can help in those moments where they just need a friendly face.
Your senior also can feel lonely because they do not feel like they are a productive member of society. Connecting them, even virtually, with your local senior center or religious organization can help them find a niche.
As we move back to a time of less isolation, ensure that your senior can get to small gatherings. Often a lack of transportation and their desire not to burden you will add to their feelings of isolation and loneliness.
If you are visiting in person, there are a number of things to look for if you are also concerned about your senior loved one’s well-being, including:
- Is the house reasonably tidy and clean? Remember everyone has a different standard, so this is all relative – is the house how you would expect from your loved one’s younger days?
- Are there fall hazards that need to be corrected?
- Is there fresh food in the refrigerator?
- Are there a lot of pantry staples past their use by date?
- Does your loved one seem to be moving about the house comfortably?
- Are clothes and towels clean?
Even if you can’t be there, an Assisting Hands Home Care serving Columbus, OH caregiver can provide companionship as well as practical assistance with daily life. Many families are choosing home care rather than risk a more populated community or facility for care. Make sure your caregiver can schedule in time just to sit and chat to help them feel heard and cared for. These casual conversations can also yield important insights into behavior changes or physical challenges you might not know about otherwise. Give us a call today and get a free consultation to learn more about how home care can work for your family’s peace of mind.