In my last post, I discussed the prevalence of loneliness in seniors and how it can take a major toll on your mental, emotional, and physical health. In this article, I look at what can be done to overcome loneliness, with the aim of improving overall well-being.
Get a hearing aid.
If you can’t hear what others are saying, you’ll feel socially isolated in a room full of people. And friends, acquaintances, and family who have to repeat what they say will become frustrated and impatient, potentially prompting them to avoid you.
All human interaction depends on communication, and if you’re not doing your part, you can’t expect others to hold up both ends of the conversation.
Swim, walk, stretch, do yoga, bicycle, dance. Do whatever you enjoy. Ideally, in a group or with a friend. People who commit to exercising with someone are more likely to stick with it. Not only will you be improving your physical health, but you might just make a few workout buddies.
Loneliness causes a person to withdraw and focus on self. By volunteering your time to a charity, you refocus your attention outside yourself on those in need and meet like-minded people who are working by your side.
Stimulate your neural pathways by learning new things. Who knows, your fellow classmates might invite you for a cuppa joe after class to discuss some meaty ideas.
Get a pet.
Though this will come as no surprise to dog and cat lovers, psychiatrists at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center found that patients 60 years and older who lived with a pet were 36 percent less likely to report loneliness than those without a pup or kitty.
Not only will you be unconditionally loved, but you’ll also have a reason to get out of bed: Someone is waiting for food, a walk, and a belly rub.
Take the first step out of loneliness by making an appointment with an audiologist, finding exercise opportunities near your house, calling a charity that supports a cause close to your heart, perusing upcoming classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Cal State Long Beach, and visiting an animal shelter to find the “fur baby” that’s just right for you.