On his last birthday, my Dad gave me a note which had the list of changes that took place since he was born. The list had every detail of changes such as, the number of times his heart had beaten till the previous day, the number of people born on earth after he stepped into this world, the number of times the Moon had orbited around the earth, the number of birthday candles he had blown, how far he had travelled around the center of the earth as it rotates, what games had been invented since he was born, and many more. It also told me how old he will become if he lives for the next 20, 30, 40 and more years.
When I read it, I realized he was feeling his age and not feeling very happy about it.
Sometimes, realizing the fact that one is growing old is quite depressing. Along with this sets anxiety and the feeling of loneliness. The risk of social isolation and loneliness increases with age.
Loneliness, Social Isolation and Depression in Elderly:
Loneliness, social isolation and depression should not be confused with each other.
- Social Isolation:Too few or absolutely no social relationships lead to social isolation. Fear of falling because of physical conditions may also subsequently keep an elderly socially isolated. He or she may feel less confident to step out of one’s home and hence become incapable of interacting with known people as well. Not all people are capable of social interactions. It may also arise due to fewer numbers of people around to interact with.
Whereas, insufficient relationships perceived by someone may lead him or her to feel lonely. A person may be in the company of many friends and family members and still feel lonely. Demise of spouse, children moving away from home or lack of companionship can be a reason for loneliness to set in.
Depression can be due to a number of factors. Chronic health conditions, age related memory disorders, abandonment, neglect, retirement from work; inability to practice daily hobbies and other causes may lead to an elderly ending up depressed.
Dealing with changes
- Physical fitness
Exercising 30 minutes daily can help you stay fit and keep your mind active. Conditions associated with diet, obesity and inactive lifestyle such as stroke can be avoided by working out light. An active body is very important if you aspire for an active mind.
- Healthy diet
Maintaining a healthy diet with low carbohydrates can keep away many age related conditions. A balanced diet can be the solution to many health risks related to aging.
- Physical fitness
- Mental fitness
Mental exercises can help to improve your memory loss by 30-50% as found out by researchers at Stanford University (USA). Brain functions can decline if it is not used enough.
- Mental fitness
- Engaging in plenty of stimulating conversations and keeping up to social life can help in keeping your mind active.
- Read newspapers, magazines and books enhance memory activity.
- Playing thinking games can give you an active mind and keep you busy at the same time.
- Cultivating new hobbies.
- Learning something new.
- Things to remember:
Aging is a natural process. If you are sensing social isolation or loneliness that is hampering your daily life activities, feel free to discuss those issues with your family, friend or your confidante. Engaging in social activities and spending time with yourself is the best way to keep yourself mentally active and relaxed. You have spent the major part of your life working and keeping up with responsibilities. This is the time to take care of your interests and live your life. Travel places you always wanted to visit. Go for a long drive. Visit your friends you haven’t seen for a long time. Do things you enjoy. Retirement is the beginning of a new phase of life.
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