How to Prevent Valentine’s Loneliness in Your Senior Loved Ones

Posted: 2/7/2020 8:00 AM by Interim HealthCare
Loneliness can be very bad for your health. It can be worse for you than obesity and offers the equivalent life-shortening power of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Loneliness is especially bad for seniors. They’re also at a higher risk of isolation: spouses die (or the couple divorced and the senior never married) and adult children move far away. What’s more, poor health often keeps senior adults isolated in their homes with very little human interaction at all, Every. Single. Day.

Embarrassment can also keep seniors tucked away at home: they may experience incontinence or need a walker or cane to get around. They may need oxygen therapy and need to carry the equipment with them. These obstacles to mobility can also leave seniors feeling self-conscious and therefore more and more loathe to venture out.

Additional effects of senior loneliness

Loneliness is stressful, at least in how it acts on the body: the effect is similar to chronic stress. What’s more, a UC San Francisco study found that participants aged 60 and up who said they were lonely saw a 45 percent increase in their risk of death than more social seniors. The isolated study participants also had a 59 percent greater risk of physical and mental decline.

The study also found that loneliness has the potential to accelerate a senior’s need for daily living help from a family member, professional caregiver or even long-term care!

Enough with the sad facts: Valentine’s Day is coming!

You undoubtedly want to make sure your senior loved one feels appreciated and loved -- on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year. Here are some ideas to help prevent him or her from feeling lonely on the day that’s all about celebrating love!

If you’re nearby, visit!

There’s little that will make a senior feel better than seeing the people he or she loves. Sure, cards and phone calls are nice, but if you can swing it, a visit with your senior is the greatest gift of all. And if you can bring grandchildren with you, all the better!

If possible, take the senior out for lunch or dinner. Stay for at least an hour so that your senior feels you want to be there. Time is the best gift you can give your loved one, and knowing you spent a good deal of it with him or her will help tremendously.

If you’re not near, call. Even better? Video chat!

Talking on the phone with your senior loved one truly is the next best thing to being there. If your senior is able and if he or she has a smartphone or can Skype or FaceTime, a video chat would be terrific. And, once again, if grandchildren are near, a video chat with them will do your senior a world of good. (As it will your children!)

Send a card and even a small gift

If you visit, bring the gift with you. If you can’t see your loved one in person, send a card and a small gift. Seniors often say they don’t need anything, so a knick-knack or stuffed animal might not be as appreciated as a gift of food.

However… once again, if you have children, a handmade Valentine’s tchotchke from them is possibly the perfect gift for a doting and proud grandparent.

Helping to keep loneliness at bay for your senior loved ones

If the elders you love need a little help around the house or some companionship, Interim HealthCare can be there. We offer in-home personal care and support services for a few hours a week, daily or even full time. Our caregivers can help with day-to-day needs, driving to appointments and shopping and – perhaps especially – companionship. 

And what a terrific Valentine’s Day gift that would be! Contact the Interim HealthCare location nearest you to learn more.