It is not new that many elderly people today are lonely. Loneliness is a social and financial concern for all of us as the elderly population continues to increase. Pope Francis has had the following quote:
“At this time of crisis we cannot be concerned solely with ourselves, withdrawing into loneliness, discouragement and a sense of powerlessness in the face of problems. Please do not withdraw into yourselves! This is a danger: we shut ourselves up in the parish, with our friends, within the movement, with the like-minded… but do you know what happens? When the Church becomes closed, she becomes an ailing Church, she falls ill! That is a danger. . . .A Church closed in on herself is the same, a sick Church.”
Older adults feel lonely due to several variables. They have a lack of social connections – how many of us know our neighbors? People move frequently away from their immediate families. Families with young children are busy with activities throughout the week and into the weekend. Grandparents do not live with their families and many retired seniors move to warmer climates. As people age, chronic illnesses become more prevalent. Mobility becomes an issue. Decreased energy prevents elderly from being involved with family activities. Doctor visits alone take up much of their time and energy. When you don’t feel well – you may just want to stay home.
Loneliness is not a natural part of aging. So it is important to recognize warning signs of loneliness. Some signs of loneliness include:
Any personal loss such as loss of spouse, family member, pet, or friend can trigger loneliness. Loneliness can exacerbate health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and increased the risk of dementia.
Some suggestions for the elderly person to combat loneliness include:
If you are a family member or a friend, there are suggestions to help with those who are at risk for loneliness.
**Information above summarized from https://www.greatseniorliving.com/articles/chronic-loneliness.
Prayer for Relationships
O Lord, I ask you today to help me truly
Connect with those around me.
Help me not to be focused on accomplishing
tasks, but on building relationships.
Please slow the time down to just the
right speed needed to enjoy and value
each person. Help me to see with the
heart of Jesus. I thank you for this
wonderful opportunity to be a channel
for your love.
—Margaret Simonson, RN, Parish Nurse, Community Lutheran Church, Escondido, CA, from Prayers for the Soul: Comfort for Parish Nurses & the People they Serve