Loneliness can strike at any age but it’s particularly common for older people to feel isolated and alone. If an older relative has lost a life partner or is unable to get out and about easily, for example, they may struggle to maintain relationships and feel increasingly lonely as time goes on.
As loneliness can have an impact on both physical and emotional well-being, it’s important to recognize when older relatives are feeling distanced from their loved ones. To ensure you pick up on the signs, take a look at these four signs your elderly relative is lonely:
1. Frequent Contact
If an elderly relative begins contacting you more frequently than usual, it could be a sign that they’re feeling lonely, particularly if they don’t have anything specific to share with you. Perhaps an older relative has taken to calling you once a day or maybe they’re sending multiple emails every few hours? If so, this increased contact could be a sure sign that they’re in need of company and mental stimulation.
2. Frustration or Anger
When people exhibit signs of frustration and anger, it isn’t always easy to get to the root cause of the problem. If your relative isn’t forthcoming about the reasons for their sudden change in emotion, it might not occur to you that loneliness is actually the underlying cause. However, boredom and isolation can often present in this way.
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3. Shopping More Often
When people are lonely, they often look for things to do and shopping can be a time-filler that provides your relative with a sense of purpose. A loved one may go to the store more frequently than they need to, for example, or begin making purchases online or via shopping channels on the TV. Excess or compulsive purchasing can quickly lead to financial issues, so it’s important to identify the cause of this behavior and take steps to help your relative find new ways to relieve feelings of loneliness or isolation.
4. Withdrawal from Social Interactions
Refusing to interact socially might seem counterintuitive if you’re feeling lonely but it’s actually a very common symptom of isolation. If an older relative suddenly decides that they don’t want to attend family events or they are reluctant to communicate, loneliness could be the reason why. With gentle questioning, you can help older relatives to regain their confidence and motivate them to engage socially once again.
Helping People to Overcome Loneliness
Many people feel embarrassed to admit they’re lonely, so don’t assume that a loved one will necessarily tell you when they’re feeling isolated. Instead, look out for the signs and symptoms of loneliness and do what you can to ensure your older relatives have the companionship and sense of community they need to enjoy a rewarding and fulfilling life.