Approximately 1 in 5 Canadian seniors can be classified as lonely or dissatisfied with life according to Stats Can. People who remain actively engaged in life and connected to those around them are generally happier, in better physical and mental health, and more empowered to cope effectively with life transitions. Stress, isolation and social exclusion increase the risk of poor health and loneliness, and may even act as predictors of early death.
People can become lonely for any number of reasons, regardless of their age. Some people are lonely because they don’t feel like they fit in, while others may become lonely after the death of a loved one. Other people might just suffer from an illness that doesn’t allow them to see many people. Children with family troubles will often become lonely as a result of the tough issues they face at home.
We know that pets can cheer people up. POOCH (Pets Offer Ongoing Care and Healing) program and research by St. Louis University found that weekly visits with a therapy dog significantly reduced the loneliness of elderly patients in a long-term care facility.
Weekly visits with a therapy dog significantly reduced the loneliness of elderly patients in a long-term care facility.Click to Tweet
If pets can help to reduce loneliness, so can human visits. In today’s busy world, we get so caught up in the day-to-day that we forget about those who are not directly in our line-of-sight. It’s sometimes true that out-of-sight does often lead to out-of-mind. We need to be purposeful in connecting with those who are important in our lives.
When my boys were little, they were blessed to have 3 sets of grandparents and 3 sets of great-grandparents. We even moved to be closer to several of them. Life was busy with two little ones, but we made it a point of visiting each of the great grandparents. Sometimes the boys would complain and we would have to explain that not everyone’s lives were busy like ours. Grandmas and Grandpas loved us and looked forward to us visiting. It made them happy. And because we love them, we visit. But the benefit was not all about the grandmas and grandpas. They boys benefited. They learned how to be around elderly people and they learned that there is a lot to learn from them if you ask the right questions. They learned about love, family connection and responsibility.
A couple of my best memories was when our grandpa was in the nursing home and the boys and I went to visit. Sometimes they were dressed in their halloween costumes and the residents would light right up. They would pretend to be scared by the costumes and try to guess their names. Once the boys played the piano for them. Just simple tunes that they had learned at piano lessons, but you would have thought that the big band had arrived. The residents came from their rooms and clapped away, even requesting an encore.
It doesn’t take much to make a difference.
Beverly’s Hot Tips For Building Resilience By Celebrating Cheer Up The Lonely Day
- Let your friend or family member know that you are thinking about them. Send them a message, call them on the phone, or go for a visit.
- Let them talk and vent. It may be hard to listen to someone who is lonely as often their conversations tend to be negative. let them express themselves and then move the conversation forward to something lighter or more positive.
- Give them a hug. We need physical contact. Did you know that giving 5 people a hug every day can lower your own stress level by 25%.
- Take them out. Getting outside, especially on a sunny day, can boost serotonin and melatonin which impact our mood and sleeping patterns.
- Play. Have a game of cards or break open the board games. Playing can be a great distraction and very therapeutic. It can also make conversation easier.
- Ask what they need. It’s ok to ask. And if they are not sure, let them know that you are there when they need you.
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!