When you feel lonely, you don’t need to take a test to know for sure. If you feel lonely, you probably are lonely. But keep in mind that loneliness should not be a natural part of growing older. Although many seniors experience it, many others can establish and maintain feelings of social connection.
It can be difficult to tell if someone close to you is affected by loneliness. Many seniors don’t like to admit they need help for many reasons, including they may be afraid of seeming “old.” So, it is possible that someone close to you could be suffering without letting you know that they’re lonely. Symptoms of loneliness can also be confused with the normal signs of growing older.
Some of the signs of loneliness are:
- Sudden neglect of hygiene and personal care
- Lack of motivation
- Mysterious aches and pains
- A noticeable increase in negative thinking and pessimism
- A drop in energy levels
- Declining interest in social activities
- A change in reaching out to you—either less frequently or more frequently
- An increase in activities that might be ways of coping with loneliness, such as shopping
- An increase in hot baths or showers, which can act as substitutes for the warmth of human contact
If a senior experiences any type personal loss, including the loss of a pet, be aware of any changes in their behavior. Recently moving or losing the ability to drive can also trigger loneliness. So, if a friend or loved one has experienced an event that could reduce his or her social connections or is demonstrating any of the typical warning signs of loneliness, make it a point to contact them, and ask them how they are doing.
Also, be alert to feelings of increased loneliness if you’ve experienced a loss or a change in your own life. Addressing these feelings early on will help you in the long run since loneliness can get worse over time if not dealt with.
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