Seniors and loneliness series: How to tell if your mom or dad is lonely

Bojana NedicHealth & WellnessDecember 15, 2017
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In this 4-part series on seniors and loneliness, we’ll help you figure out if your aging loved one is lonely, causes of loneliness in seniors, the negative effects of loneliness and the role retirement communities play in reducing loneliness.


The two devastating words you’ll never hear

Imagine sitting down with your mom or dad for a chat and hearing these two words: “I’m lonely.” You’d hate to hear it as much as your mom or dad would hate to admit it.


Most likely, you won’t hear those words from your loved one because of the stigma associated with loneliness and asking for help.


But according to AARP, a non-profit that helps Americans over 50 choose how they live as they age, 32% of seniors between 60- and 69-years-old are lonely.  And 25% of seniors over 70-years-old are lonely.


In case your loved one is tight-lipped about feelings—and this older generation often is—you’ll be well-served if you can recognize signs of loneliness.


What is loneliness?

Loneliness is to be without sympathetic or friendly companionship and to experience a depressing feeling of being alone.


Terrible to imagine your mom or dad experiencing those feelings, isn’t it?


Even if you never hear the words, “I’m lonely,” you can recognize loneliness if you know the signs.


Signs of loneliness; your loved one may be lonely if he or she:

  • Starts shopping more than usual—this study indicates that loneliness fuels a desire to accumulate possessions.
  • Isn’t sleeping well.
  • Talks about friends being lonely.
  • Makes assumptions about lack of contact with others—lonely people will assume the other person doesn’t want to be friends anymore instead of guessing they’re busy.
  • Feels a depression coming on.
  • Starts taking long and hot showers (becoming warm makes us feel less lonely).


If you don’t see your mom or dad often or if they’re particularly stoic, you may not see any of these signs. But if you think something’s wrong, it’s helpful to learn about what typically leads to loneliness.


Join us for part 2 of this series where we talk about the causes of loneliness in seniors.

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