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How to fight loneliness in the elderly?


Today’s society suffers from an epidemic of loneliness at the generational level. Those of us who work in the help relationship know that there are many people who are alone.

How does loneliness affect older people?

We have to know that when social isolation occurs in the human being, there is a high risk of loss or deterioration of cognitive skills in the elderly.

Today’s society does not prepare us for aging nor does anyone explain how to avoid loneliness in the elderly. However, it would be very important that the residences address the problem of loneliness and what can be done to avoid the loneliness of our grandparents.

Now we have seen during the pandemic that there have been many elderly people who have felt terribly alone in the residences, because their families have not been able to come to visit them.

Fear and sadness are the most common emotions in older people who live alone and isolate themselves from society. This social isolation and loneliness they suffer is one of the main factors that put the elderly at risk of suffering from dysthymia, anxiety, stress, depression, senile dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

To prevent this from happening, it is essential that the elderly take a healthy, balanced diet and adequate to the special medical care they need, healthy physical activity, good sleep habits, adequate medical monitoring and follow-up, adequate mental training to avoid memory loss and cognitive impairment, as well as lead a rich social life in which to surround themselves with friends, family, do indoor and outdoor activities in nature and not isolate themselves at home.

How can I help seniors who need palliative care?

From the age of 65, we must take care of our health more than ever, since most of the deaths that occur in Europe and in developed countries occur from this age.

As life expectancy increases in the developed world, palliative care is gaining priority and importance and this is an issue that should be given priority in public health policies.

In Western countries, the number of older people is increasing and there will be an increasing need for a large number of professionals to care for the elderly, a profession that is increasingly projected for the future.

We must also bear in mind that fewer and fewer children are born in developed countries and this makes the ageing of the population a problem that must be given priority because who is going to take care of them and how are we going to deal with this as a society?

Fortunately, we have more and more professionals in this sector of palliative care who are young and come from other countries and cultures and who see in palliative care and the care of the elderly an optimal way to advance their professional career.

We must not forget also caregivers who are not professionals, but relatives and friends of older people, especially women. These are also growing, as we see a progressive increase in the age of caregivers in the western world. To this must be added the fact that families have become increasingly small, dispersed and varied, influenced by high rates of divorce and separation, among other factors.

The general rule is that families want to offer the best care to their elders, but unfortunately public health policies invest very little money in helping the neediest families in this.

As a general rule, what must be done is to let the elder decide, as far as possible, how he wishes to manage his care himself: either in the home of a relative, either in his home and with health or adequate personnel, or in a specific center in which he is given adequate care.

Adequate care is one based on respect for the values and preferences of the patient, based on clear and understandable information about what happens to him and his pathology, that promotes autonomy in decision-making and that attends to his physical and emotional well-being needs.

Once you have read this article, do you want to share your opinion with us? Is loneliness a topic you worry about happening to you when you grow up? Tell us about your experience and we will be happy to read you.

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