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How to prevent your aging parents from loneliness and depression
We live in an advanced tech world where it’s easier than ever to communicate with our dear ones. And yet, according to recent studies, we’re lonelier than ever. How can that be? Seniors suffer the most. Did you know that 18% of older people in the US live alone? A study performed by the UCSF (the University of California in San Francisco) has proven than 43% of today’s seniors feel completely lonely. 1 in 7 seniors with Alzheimer’s lives alone as well and those that don’t do anything to remedy this situation end up developing depression. That’s because they isolate themselves, and they stop socializing. In other countries like the UK, things are even worse. In England, more than 2 million people over 75 live alone. They end up spending months without talking to a family member, friend or neighbor; this has a great impact on the feeling of loneliness, and it might trigger depression. As responsible adults we must not let that happen with our parents; we cannot allow them to feel lonely because they might risk getting sick sooner than expected. Loneliness and depression should not happen.
Lonely seniors have an increased decline rate
Lonely seniors have an increased rate of physical and mental decline. Additionally their chance of earlier death increases by 45%. Rather than allow your parents to remain alone all day long and risk developing depression, it might be a good idea to include them in your daily schedule and encourage them to socialize more. Seniors should take up fun activities such as playing cards, joining a book club, meeting friends, or enjoying the beauty of nature through regular walks in the parks.
Preventing an aging parent from feeling lonely doesn’t have to be that challenging. As their child, you should make time to visit more often even if you can only be with them for 1-2 hours. They’ve done everything they could in their youth years to raise you up, so now it’s your time to return the ‘favor’. Be their caregiver and look after them with the utmost care to keep them with you for as long as possible. Spend quality time appreciating what they have to say, and listen carefully.
The more you listen to them in an active way the better they will feel. To them, believing that their kids care about what they have to share alleviates the feeling of loneliness that’s eating their soul and triggering depression. During your visit to your parent’s house, take all the time you need to engage in a conversation. Ask them questions, look interested and excited to see them, and listen carefully to their answers. Encourage them to reveal more and enjoy the time spent together.
Help them overcome the feeling of isolation
Now and then, seniors may find their personal interests and abilities shrinking, up to a point where they feel completely isolated. Help them connect with other people and socialize, and support their decisions. Getting in touch with former friends, going out for lunch, and spending time with the grandkids are opportunities they shouldn’t overlook in order to preserve their physical and mental health. If your aging parent has a hobby, you must help foster that hobby. Gardening, for example, is a great way of getting out of the house, socializing with neighbors and doing something fun and enjoyable.
Encourage family interaction
You should visit your aging parents as many times as you can, especially if they live alone. Get other family members involved too. Set a time and date, and convince them to come even if they live in a different city or country. By getting other family members involves you show your aging parent that everyone in the family still cares for their wellbeing. Don’t forget to bring the grandkids too. Set up a picnic and make them feel loved and appreciated to give them a reason to move on, get out of their homes more often and interact with other people too.
It’s tough to help seniors get pass the feeling of loneliness. However, it’s not impossible to attain either. Include them in your life by visiting more often. Send them weekly postcards, flowers or any other thing that might put a smile on their face. Older parents are well aware their kids have busy schedules, but then again, this doesn’t mean you should cut them out of your life completely. Don’t be a stranger to your aging parent and you will be able to prevent them from aging lonely and depressed.
Author Bio: Jason Phillips is interested in writing about health and fitness related issues. He is knowledgeable in this field. Also, he writes for a site http://www.foresthc.com/ providing elder care homes and retirement villages.