The Hidden Disease: Why It’s Important to Prevent Loneliness in Our Aging Parents
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One of the biggest issues, as we get older, is the feeling of isolation that creeps in. Aging parents need more care and support with every passing year. And while we must ensure they have what they need, we also have to prioritize their mental health. Ensuring their physical needs are met can be a massive task, but we have to also recognize that, whether our parents are physically declining or losing their health, they actively challenge the concept of loneliness. Preventing loneliness is critical, and here are some reasons why we should:
Their Overall Health
Getting older means there’s a higher likelihood of health problems. This could mean losing their hearing, which has long been associated with increasing anxiety and social isolation. With regards to hearing loss, there’s benefits of combining hearing aids technologies to ensure that they get the most out of their hearing devices.
In terms of their physical health, they may not feel like they want to get out and about because it’s too much hassle or can result in more frustration, but for the sake of their overall physical health, being sociable can lower blood pressure, improve their immune system, and provide a number of cognitive benefits. It’s important that we all stimulate our minds, and for our aging parents, keeping the mind active can potentially reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline such as dementia.
Provides a Coping Mechanism
If there’s anything we can all fear, it’s losing control of our faculties or our physical abilities. Getting older means significant life changes such as the loss of loved ones, health changes, and retirement. Regardless of anybody’s physical state, having a strong social network can help people to cope with these major transitions. Having conversations with people to work through these issues but also have a good laugh at the same time will give us all a far better outlook.
There comes a time when we can feel like we are heading to funerals on a regular basis, even in our early 40s. When you think about your aging parents and the news that someone else they knew really well has passed away, it can slowly eat away at their abilities to cope with this thing they call life. We have to prevent loneliness in this respect by encouraging them to be social. Coping mechanisms are critical because we all need to be far better at dealing with things and being alone means that we are not dealing with those problems but rather shutting them out.
Enhances Mental Resilience
Mental resilience is an essential quality, especially if your aging parents are slowly losing their faculties. While it can be very frustrating for those trying to look after their parents, social connections can enhance mental resilience which means that seniors can look after themselves and deal with stress. Stress is something that evolves alongside us. The changes in our lives mean that we feel stressed in different ways and mental resilience is something that is absolutely invaluable regardless of any stage of our life. When we are lonely, this can amplify feelings of sadness, grief for loss.
The story that if a partner passes away that the surviving member of that couple only hangs on for a few months or a couple of years is a testament to the unity of that couple. A network of friends or family members that can provide emotional support and give them some form of resilience in the face of death is not just good for them, but can help them to retain some form of autonomy.
Reinforces a Positive Outlook on Aging
It can be easy to feel that aging is, from every angle, a bad thing, especially as our parents get older, but having a social life as we get older will help to challenge any negative stereotypes about aging. We have to all think about aging as something that is not about deterioration but actually determination.
If your parent is thinking that getting older is purely about waiting to meet their maker, then it’s time to be more reflective and recognize that life is not just about working to pay the bills and then retiring but about actually remembering that life is truly what you make it. This is why being sociable can help to reinforce the idea that there is always an opportunity to live life to the full no matter how little there would appear to be.
It is critical to prevent the idea of loneliness, not just in our parents, but in everyone. These benefits are something that we should all actually think about, not just so our parents can live a more fulfilling life, but we can also enter old age thinking the same things.
*This article is based on personal suggestions and/or experiences and is for informational purposes only. This should not be used as professional advice. Please consult a professional where applicable.