How to Recognize Senior Loneliness Before It Becomes a Problem

Lonely Seniors Tend To Have Less Quality Sleep

Though we live in an age where we can easily communicate with friends and family, humans are lonelier now than ever before. A 2018 survey found that nearly half of U.S. adults reported feelings of loneliness “sometimes” or “always,” indicating widespread experience. The elderly are more susceptible to feelings of loneliness, and they are also the group for whom loneliness can pose an extreme health risk

We know the late-stage signs of loneliness – fatigue, unhappiness, and social withdrawal. But there are a few signs to look for before the emotion takes root. While less obvious, these experiences can indicate that your loved one is beginning to feel alone. 

Below, we’ve outlined some of the subtler signs of senior loneliness that your loved one may be experiencing. If you notice any of these behaviors, you’ll want to do what you can to help – whether that means talking more frequently, setting them up with a therapist, or investing in a medical alert system to show that you care for their health.

Disrupted Sleep

The lonelier a person feels, the worse they sleep. According to research, loneliness is associated with sleep fragmentation. This means lonely people experience frequent awakenings during the normal wake-sleep cycle, resulting in lower-quality sleep and difficulty feeling rested. This can happen toward the beginning of somebody’s experience with loneliness, and it will eventually lead to extreme fatigue. If you’re worried about a loved one, ask how they’ve been sleeping. 

Sad or Neutral Facial Expressions

The first stages of loneliness can be difficult to detect through phone calls alone. While lonely people can often fake enthusiasm in a phone conversation, physically emoting can be more difficult. If you notice that your loved one isn’t smiling or laughing much, it could be a sign that they are feeling isolated. Video chatting can be a great tool to better assess your loved one’s emotional state. The better you can see their face, the more confident you can feel about their emotional state.

Increased Communication Needs

Support Your Elderly Friend With Alert1

When a person begins to experience loneliness, they reach out to friends and family with more frequency. If you can’t chat, your loved one may see your unavailability as a rejection. If you notice your elderly friend calling more than usual, do your best to pick up the phone. If you don’t have time to talk, remind them how important they are and promise to call back at a time that works better for you. 

Support Your Elderly Friend with a Medical Alert System

In many cases, elderly folks experience loneliness because they feel unloved, unlovable, or rejected. While keeping in touch is a great way to stave off the emotion, there is only so much time you can spend on the phone. As a result, charitable and loving gestures are extremely important. If you’re looking for a way to make your elderly friend feel loved, consider a medical alert system. In gifting or encouraging a medical alert system, you are communicating that you care about their health and wellbeing. Plus, medical alert systems are an excellent way for your friend or parent to feel tethered to the outside world. With just the push of a button, they can summon emergency care or connect with pre-set contacts.