Lonely and Isolated?
Not Really #125
Yes! I’m more comfortable with my inner world of thoughts and feelings than the outer world of people and things. Some would say I’m an introvert. So, the article, Introverted or Just Depressed, caught my eye.
Dan was a private person as well. We preferred each other’s company, were reserved and quiet, and enjoyed our time alone and together. I often said he was the one person I would want to be on a deserted island with.
Now, I live by myself, and I like being alone. Yet, experts say that loneliness and isolation are common issues for older adults. Should I be concerned?
The other day, the Surgeon General said
“Our epidemic of loneliness and isolation has been an under appreciated public health crisis that has harmed individual and societal health.”
Similarly, the CDC website says
Although it’s hard to measure isolation and loneliness precisely, there is strong evidence that many adults aged 50 and older are socially isolated or lonely in ways that put their health at risk. Recent studies found that:
Social isolation significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, one that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.
Isolation was associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia.
Poor social relationships were associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly four times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency room visits.
Given my personality, loneliness is not a problem. I am happy at home with the cats, computer, and television. I am also fortunate. Even though my son lives out of state, we Skype daily. I talk or text with my grandsons and their wives regularly. My daughter and I meet most afternoons to walk her dogs, have a glass of wine, and work on art projects - like the one below.
I gave up driving recently, but I’m not isolated. Numerous restaurants, stores, and services are within walking distance, and resources such as DoorDash, Amazon, and Amazon Fresh are readily available. I have the computer to use but I watch for scams, phishing, and hacking, as I’ve mentioned in other articles
So even though I am introverted - loneliness and isolation are not a concern.
If it were, though, I would consider joining an online group like Next Door. I’d take online classes from Udemy or Wondrium, and learn Spanish through DuoLingo. I would also figure out how to use Instagram and Zoom to connect with friends and relatives. All activities that honor my need for “alone time.”
If I were more extroverted, I could join the local senior center, attend a nearby church, or join a face-to-face group, such as a book club or exercise group.
Many websites offer ideas for conquering loneliness, such as the NHS.UK website
Smile, even if it feels hard
Invite friends for tea or coffee
Keep in touch by phone, email, or Zoom
Learn to love computers
Get involved in local community activities
Keep a journal
Get out and about
The Introverted or Just Depressed article also discusses depression and dysthymia - which has been an issue for me since Dan died. I do experience bouts of sadness, anxiety, and low self-esteem. However, it doesn’t stop me for long; those feelings come and go.
I am an introvert - that personality trait is not likely to change, but being aware of the fact is a reminder to watch for increased signs of discouragement and depression. My actions are writing in a journal, going for a walk, talking with a friend, and listening to music. Most importantly, I accept that sadness is a part of my life now - just like happiness and fun are.
If depression became an issue, I would consider going to a therapist to resolve the underlying cause and to a doctor for medication as a last resort.
The article provided a wealth of information for people wishing to age well as do other articles written by the author of Life Intelligence.
Thanks for reading Aging Well News! Subscribe for free to receive new posts.
If you want to contribute to my work, consider donating to the Alzheimers Association. This link takes you to their website. The choice is always yours.