The greatest generation is aging. Their tenacity to thrive and their insistence to live as independently as possible are the grand hallmarks of this tribe of people. A proud generation, they often insist on things staying as they are, despite when things are obviously deteriorating, especially with their living situation. One of the notable occurrences with this aging population is elderly loneliness. At first it can be barely noticeable to the family, then slowly over time it becomes obvious, prompting family members to figure out how to deal with it only to become frustrated when suggestions for alleviating the situation are staunchly rejected by their loved one who is suffering.
Still, all hope is not lost. There are some things you can do to help and some things you should watch for that may alert you to other things going on with Mom or Dad besides elderly loneliness.
Common Signs That Elderly Loneliness Is Plaguing Your Loved One
First, there are the realities as to why an aging person would suffer from elderly loneliness. For many of them, their spouses have been their constant companion for many decades. Their loss may be weighing on your loved one a lot more than you might realize.
Next, aging people aren’t usually able to get around as much as they used to. Sometimes they need to relinquish driving, other times it is physical mobility issues that keep them home. Whichever the situation, whether being able to get around town or just around the house, being home and sedentary day after day would weigh on anyone. Many aging people suffer from elderly loneliness simply because they can’t be as social as they used to and they very often won’t let you know that is what is going on with them.
Don’t expect an aging person to tell you straight out that they are lonely. They will exhibit signs of elderly loneliness in different ways.
Here are a few:
- Calling family members often or more often than they used to
- Asking for favors and errand runs very frequently
- Complaining about issues and problems for family members to resolve that really aren’t too pressing
- Exhibiting increased or sudden anxiety about doing things alone
Many lonely elderly persons try to resolve their solitary pangs with phone calls to family members. Sometimes those calls increase to such a volume that they become a nuisance. Have some compassion. What your family member is trying to do is establish more of a connection with people. Phone calls fill the gaps in their time and add to their social satisfaction. When Mom or Dad is dwelling on things that really aren’t too important and raising it with you over and over on the phone, it’s a sure sign that they are focusing on things to occupy their time, rather than needing to find a solution to a problem.
Is Mom or Dad asking you to go to the grocery store or pharmacy for the umpteenth time this week? Be on the lookout for errand runs that seem frivolous or unnecessary, particularly if they are insisting on them. It just might be that the highlight of their day is when someone comes to their home with something as an excuse to visit with someone. However inconvenienced you feel, it may be a person coming to the door that makes them feel better.
Maybe they suddenly need you to accompany them to everything and anything? Do they frequently ask for you to do things with them, a lot more often than they used to? It could be the company they need more than the assistance.
When Elderly Loneliness Is Actually A Sign Of Something Else
There is a difference between an aging loved one trying to fill their time with yours and when there are signs that maybe Mom or Dad aren’t doing too well alone any more. While someone dealing with elderly loneliness may make a lot of phone calls to family, it should concern you if they appear to have forgotten that they’ve called you already or don’t have any recollection of the previous conversation.
Does Mom or Dad want you to do a lot of things for them that aren’t necessary or do they not realize that they’ve already asked for something and the request has been met? Keep track of when requests are made for assistance and you know they have already been filled.
Irrational anxiety is definitely a sign of something going on with Mom or Dad besides elderly loneliness. Pay attention to anxiety occurrences and why they are happening. You may want to go with them to their primary physician if anxiety becomes a frequent condition.
Keeping Record Of Behavior Changes Will Help You Communicate And Manage Issues Promptly
If you think something is going on with Mom or Dad, you are probably right. You know your aging loved one better than someone from the outside world. It’s important for you to keep record of changes and out of the ordinary behavior and also to share it with those close to them to collaborate on these changes and compare notes. Don’t shrug it off, make note and keep an eye on what is concerning you and share it with members of their medical care team.
eCare Vault is such a tool for just this. It’s family caregiving for the 21st century. A secure cloud-based platform for you to keep record of changes in your loved one’s behavior, medical information; anything you want to collaborate on or share with other people caring for your loved one. If you need to collaborate on the care of your aging loved one, eCare Vault is your best choice for effective caregiving.