There have been lots of local and overseas studies which show that loneliness is a serious problem for older people. Loneliness has been linked to earlier deaths, depression, mental and physical decline, so it’s not something to take lightly.
In an effort to help any readers who may suffer from loneliness, here are a few suggestions which may help.
Acknowledge the problem Acknowledging that loneliness is a feeling inside your mind, rather than an absolute fact can help you to start tackling it. Also realising that isolation and loneliness are two different issues with different solutions. Isolation has more to do with your living arrangements and lack of social contact.
Make a plan If you can accept that loneliness is a feeling in your mind, you can plan how to take some control over what you are thinking. You don’t have to be a victim of your thoughts and you can make changes in your life. Remember that just because your mind thinks something, doesn’t mean that it’s true. You can also plan to change your behaviour so you have more opportunities to socialise with people. Here are a few suggestions –
Focus more on others and less on yourself When you are with other people, pay more attention to what they are doing and saying. If you show interest in them, they are more likely to wish to talk to you. Try to maintain an interest in the world around you and a curious mind. Remember there are so many things out there that you know very little about, so there are plenty of reasons to be curious.
Volunteering is a good way to meet people and working together makes it easier to form friendships. By doing something useful for others, you’ll also feel happier and of value to the community.
Modern technology makes it easier to stay connected While personal contact is preferable with people living close to you, emails, Skype, Facebook and Instagram make it fairly easy to keep in contact with friends, acquaintances and family anywhere in the world. Even long distance phone calls are now significantly cheaper.
Learn something new What are you interested in? U3a and local community colleges offer a range of courses which enable you to learn more about a subject which interests you, as well as providing an opportunity to meet people who share your interest. If you have something in common, it’s generally easier to strike up a conversation.