Entering your senior years is a time of transition, often mentally and physically. I’m sure we all know people who have approached this point in life with confidence or a plan, but there many others who approach it with trepidation or denial. Naturally, as we age our day-to-day living may need to adapt, and it may become more of a challenge coping with big life events, whether that be the passing of a loved one, moving house or a health condition.
As a result, one or a combination of these situations can leave older people particularly vulnerable to the feeling of loneliness. The term ‘loneliness’ is well used in today’s society, but it can often be misunderstood. As a family member, a friend, or a healthcare professional, we need to first appreciate that loneliness can be partly addressed if we are able to empower people to live comfortably and as independently as possible, in spite of any health concerns. It works two ways, really - loneliness is both a catalyst for certain conditions, as well as a result.
The increasing frailty and onset of chronic illness that may come with age can lead to low confidence, a decline in self-care and lack of social interaction. Similarly, older adults who are lonely have an increased risk of dying sooner and are more likely to experience a decline in their mobility, compared to those who are not lonely[1,2].