The holiday season is the part of the year when everyone tries to be happy and spread positive energy. But for some seniors, it’s hard to hide that they are feeling lonely and isolated. Despite the holiday season being one of the most joyous times of the year, there are individuals that feel alone. The sad fact is that the group of people who think like this is quite large. According to statistics, 45% of Americans don’t enjoy the holiday season because of feelings of loneliness and isolation. Even more dreadful statistics claim that they feel like this during the entire year. Because of stats like this, it is essential to address loneliness as a medical condition that plagues the elderly population and make our elderly loved ones feel loved once again.
What Does Loneliness Feel Like? What Are the Signs?
It is not easy to recognize loneliness in the elderly. Most people consider seniors lonely when they are living far from family in an assisted living facility and nobody comes to visit them. But in the majority of cases, feeling lonely has nothing to do with being physically isolated. It is about feeling like you are alone in the world even when you are surrounded by people. It is about not feeling like you belong.
For example, the spouse of an individual who is battling dementia can feel lonely as he watches his other half fading away. For people who are looking at their partners changing to the point they no longer recognize, it can make them feel like their spouse already passed away. The emotions that accumulate during this process are usually negative ones.
In situations like this, it is hard to see what consequence this situation has on the healthy partner. So if your loved one is not his usual self, you should look for signs that point to loneliness. The most common ones are too much sleep and lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed. If you notice this in your loved one, it’s the right time to talk to them about what’s happening and how they are feeling.
How You Can Help a Lonely Older Loved One
Once you have talked with your loved one and had them express their feelings, the right move would be from you to fully acknowledge them. In most cases, it is hard to deal with negative emotions. It is especially difficult to handle them in situations where the elderly are not entirely willing to receive help from their children because they are younger individuals.
But even in a situation like this, you need to be patient and work with them, as you can provide the much-needed help. If you approach them without judgment and give them space, they will start discussing their negative feelings. It is essential that at first you remove all the stigma that surrounds this topic.
In most situations, it is hard to discuss the loss of a loved one with older adults, but it is essential to address this subject head on. If you do this, seniors will understand that their feelings are respected and that they are being heard. Many seniors will appreciate if you talk about their loss when you gather together or if you keep pictures of them in places where they can be seen. Others, at the same time, can feel more comfortable if you avoid speaking of them and spend time together without mentioning the subject.
If you talked with your loved one about how they would like to handle situations like this, you can make family gatherings much more enjoyable for everyone. Regardless of what they want, talking to them is the first step to full understanding and gaining the ability to help them further.
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