While seniors have lived full and fulfilling lives, they may experience loneliness and isolation as they get older. Whether a senior lives alone at home or has been moved to a facility where they are surrounded by other seniors, they may have desires to interact with friends and loved ones but not be able to. Actions from family members or friends could also leave them feeling more isolated and alone than over. In this blog post, we will talk about unexpected causes of isolation in seniors and how you can help them feel included.
Unexpected Causes of Isolation
High Emotional Intelligence
Individuals with a high emotional intelligence, or EQ, can cause them to feel isolated in their relationships. Changes in EQ can cause individuals to no longer feel connected to friends or family members. Relationships they once enjoyed may no longer provide any value.
For example, if someone built relationships built on complaining or bonding over judging others, these relationships may not last if a senior changes and grows. Instead, they may want to surround themselves with individuals who are sources of positivity.
Changes in EQ can be a result of:
- Change of attitude
- Constructive criticism
How to overcome isolation due to changes in EQ
Seniors who experience a change in EQ and subsequent isolation should embrace new relationships instead of holding onto old ones. It’s okay to let go of individuals you no longer connect with instead of trying to force a relationship that just won’t work. However, seniors can find other like-minded individuals to fill the void.
While social distancing is an important measure to keep us safe during COVID-19 and other infectious conditions, it can have negative impacts on a senior’s mental health. Many seniors are used to going to the movies, hanging out with their senior friends, going out to eat, or doing other activities that help them stay connected to other seniors and their community. However, social distancing takes many of these activities away as large groups of people are unable to gather together, restaurants close their doors, and gatherings become dangerous.
While social distancing may be necessary to maintain public safety as a whole, it threatens a senior’s state of mind and can cause them to feel very isolated and lonely.
How to overcome isolation due to social distancing
Seniors who experience isolation due to social distancing can rely on technology to help them stay connected to friends and loved ones. They can also hold small gatherings outside with friends or family members. Everyone could bring their own chairs, food, and drinks so that seniors don’t have to break social distancing guidelines.
Just like a high EQ, a high IQ can cause individuals to become isolated. Seniors with high intelligence might get annoyed by other individuals who are not as smart as they are. But this isn’t necessary snobbery. Seniors with a high IQ may not know how to connect or carry on a conversation with individuals who can’t match IQ.
Individuals with a high IQ may also feel awkward or uncomfortable in social situations. As a result, they may isolate themselves and avoid interactions altogether — furthering their feelings of loneliness.
How to overcome isolation due to high IQ
Seniors with a high IQ should seek out other highly intelligent individuals. Reflect on your intellectual interests and identify groups that are likely to have members who share those interests as well. For example, if you are interested in physics, find a Facebook or LinkedIn group that is centered around physics conversations.
Many people work their whole lives to achieve wealth. However, this wealth can cause people to feel socially isolated. Other individuals may be intimidated by wealth or make assumptions about how rich people think or behave. As a result, other individuals may not even try to get to know wealthy seniors, leaving wealthy seniors alone and isolated.
How to overcome isolation due to wealth
Seniors with wealth should move to areas in which other wealthy seniors might live — like a wealthy neighborhood or retirement community. They could focus on getting to know individuals in these areas, who will most likely not be intimidated by wealth. Seniors could also attend events where other wealthy seniors may be.
However, not all individuals are afraid of wealth. So seniors shouldn’t be afraid to try to build relationships with individuals who might not be in their tax bracket.
As seniors grow older, they may experience behavioral changes. They may lose some of their memory, they may become agitated more quickly, or they may reflect more on their own mortality, which can lead to depression. These behavioral changes can cause seniors to isolate themselves or for family members to inadvertently treat their aging loved ones differently, isolating them.
If seniors start to behave in ways that are socially inappropriate, family members may also feel embarrassed by their aging loved ones. They may avoid taking them out in public or visiting at all. However, this can cause seniors to feel lonely or even ashamed.
How to overcome isolation due to behavioral changes
A senior who experiences behavioral changes as a result of an underlying condition, like Alzheimer’s disease, may need the company of a caregiver to help them manage their condition and help them avoid isolation. A caregiver can also provide care that empowers seniors and helps them maintain their dignity wherever they go. With the help of a caregiver, family members may feel more confident taking their loved ones out in public and enjoying family activities like they once did.
Loss of Independence
Due to health complications, seniors may experience a loss of independence. They may not be able to drive anymore or communicate clearly with other individuals. As seniors lose the freedom they once enjoyed, they may retreat into their shell and avoid being social and participating in activities.
How to overcome isolation due to loss of independence
Seniors who have experienced a loss of independence need to ask for help. However, this can be intimidating. After being self-sufficient for so long, it can be hard to admit the need for help. As seniors ask for rides or assistance, they can build meaningful relationships with the individuals who help them, reducing feelings of isolation and empowering seniors to maintain their quality of life.
There are many reasons why seniors may feel isolated. However, being social is often connected to increased mental alertness, extended life, and increased overall happiness. To help seniors deal with the challenges of aging, it’s important that other generations appreciate them and don’t take them for granted.
At Caring Senior Service, our caregivers are trained to help seniors feel cared for. Our caregivers can provide companionship to help seniors avoid isolation and loneliness and combat feelings of depression. Learn more about our services.