One of the concerns that a lot of sons and daughters have over their senior parent is that they may be lonely. In fact, a lot of children who are unable to be with their parent very often look to caregiving mainly for companionship, even if their senior parent is still in good health.
Seniors who live alone often fail to admit that they are lonely. Even if you ask, they may not want to admit it, or burden you with the truth. But in addition to the emotional upset of loneliness, it can actually be harmful to health in a number of ways.
- Loneliness causes stress. If you are struggling emotionally (such as feeling lonely), it causes stress to the body. When we are stressed, the body has to work harder and therefore the immune system is weakened by the stress. This makes a person more susceptible to illness and even injury.
- There is no one looking out. A senior who lives by themselves is at risk because there is no one to make sure that they stay in good health. No one may notice if a health condition develops, especially harder to detect conditions such as dementia.
- There is less motivation to stay healthy. Often people who live alone become less motivated to stay healthy, because they don’t have another person to take care of. A common example of this is not cooking healthy meals, or going out for exercise. A senior may have always had their spouse to cook for them, but after losing their partner a senior often doesn’t take up cooking for themselves.
If you know a senior you suspect may be lonely, but they aren’t telling you, don’t be afraid to confront them to find out. You could help improve their health!