Do you find yourself grappling with feelings of isolation because friends and family live far away? Is it difficult to find and connect with like-minded people? This is a common struggle for many older adults. The University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging reports “one in three adults age[d] 50–80…reported feeling isolated from others.” With these increased feelings of loneliness, many seniors begin to experience some type of depression, which affects about 6 million Americans ages 65 and older. If you or your loved one is struggling with social isolation or depression, here are some tips and techniques to help overcome it.
Why Depression is Prevalent Among Older Adults
While depression is not an inevitable aspect of aging, its prevalence in the older adult demographic is notable. In this stage of life, you can experience a myriad of physical, mental, and social changes such as moving on from a beloved career, downsizing to a new home, or experiencing an unexpected illness or injury. Dealing with these changes may be stressful and can lead to depression.
How Depression and Isolation Affect One Another
An additional factor that can trigger depression is feeling isolated and lonely. When you feel alone, it’s easier to slip into detrimental behavior patterns such as eating junk food, withdrawing socially, and not participating in hobbies that used to once bring joy.
It’s important to recognize that the anguish of experiencing loneliness is almost as challenging as experiencing physical pain. Enduring chronic loneliness can not only trigger depression, it can potentially contribute to the development of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or severe cognitive decline.
Ways to Overcome Depression and Isolation
Armed with a deeper understanding of depression and isolation, it’s time to uncover methods that can aid you in coping with and ultimately conquering these conditions.
Speak to Your Doctor
Speak to your doctor about what you are experiencing. Doctors can sometimes prescribe medications or therapies that can help. Asking for professional help is the best way to start the path forward for positive outcomes. Remember that depression is a serious condition and should always be discussed with a professional.
Be Physically Active
Exercise not only improves your body’s physical condition, but it also releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones, which help you feel happier. Physical activity opens the door for meaningful social interactions. When you join a group exercise class like aerobics or form a neighborhood walking group, it allows you to connect with individuals who share similar interests and fitness aspirations. Be sure to speak to a health professional before starting any new exercise program, however.
Talk to a Therapist
Talking to a mental health professional can ease your emotional burden, giving you a safe, private space to talk about your feelings or concerns. A therapist can help you manage triggers and provide techniques to manage and even overcome depression.
Eat a More Balanced-Diet
What you eat has a significant impact on your physical and mental health. High-consumption of red meat, sugar, and processed foods are linked to depression. Conversely, fruits, vegetables, lentils, and a moderate amount of fish have been shown to help alleviate symptoms of depression. A registered dietitian or nutritionist can help you establish a well-rounded diet to reduce chances of experiencing depression.
Stay Connected with Family and Friends
Keep feelings of isolation at bay by surrounding yourself with loved ones who uplift, support you and like to have fun. Plan activities together, whether it’s going to the movies, exploring each other’s local neighborhoods, or enjoying a delicious Sunday morning brunch together.
Find Your People at Claridge Court
If you’re yearning to be part of a community of genuine, like-minded people, look no further than Claridge Court, a senior living community in Prairie Village, Kansas. Claridge Court boasts of a multitude of luxurious country club-style services and amenities, including private, spacious apartments, fine-dining restaurants, a fitness center and studio, and weekly housekeeping.
If you’re looking to transform your lifestyle and experience more vibrancy and growth, contact us to learn more.