Loneliness and Aging

A person could have good health and wealth, but if they have no one to share it with, it can feel empty and sad.

A daughter who traveled a lot called her dad as she faithfully did each week only to hear the same conversation, “Yes I’m fine, eating a sandwich, watching TV and then going to bed.” Since her mom passed this had become his routine day after day.

Loneliness can be defined as, “a complex and unusually unpleasant emotional response to a lack of companionship.”  It represents isolation.  Wealth, even good health, doesn’t necessarily protect you from loneliness.

Loneliness plays no favorites.  It can affect anyone at any age, however, no other age group feels the sting of loneliness more than the elderly.  The normal difficulties that come with the aging process may add to separating one from others.  People hide the fact they can’t walk as well as they did 20 years ago, dress themselves like they once did, or see the small print.

John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago says, “People who feel lonely view the social world as more threatening.”  Persistent negative thinking, the loss of a spouse, and failing health can all add to the domino effect of decline.

The outlook does not, however, have to be bleak.  Improved nutrition, exercise, learning new skills, holding religion close to the heart, attending a social event can all contribute to defeating loneliness.  In this modern technological age we are just a “click” away, a call away, a Skype or a text away from contact and communication.  There’s no doubt the best remedy for loneliness is the human touch.

Living in a community may help to combat loneliness.  Fears, such as not hearing well or fear of falling, are shared with others and help is there.  Safe transportation, religious events and holidays, dining with others, crafts, hobbies, dancing, current events, family visits, all provide a social milieu that combats loneliness.

A senior community such as Ateret Avot offers an environment that is comfortable, congenial, and connects residents to their interests and lifestyle.  Exercise, singing, dancing, current events programs, baking, arts and crafts are just a few of the activities that bring people together and promote camaraderie.  Thus engaged, you cannot feel lonely, as you are in contact with what nourishes mind, body, and spirit.