Loneliness is a state of mind or emotion common at all age groups and caused by a lack or perceived lack of social interaction and stimulation.  Everyone has experienced loneliness: when a best friend moves away during childhood, or when young adults move away to college leaving behind family and friends.  Adults may be abandoned by spouses or significant others; suffered the death of a parent; or have children leaving the nest. Retirement can also result in loneliness and boredom.

Older adults and those that are disabled may have a more difficult time engaging in those actions that afford relief of loneliness.  Diminished sight may compromise engagement in activities or reading, hearing loss makes involvement difficult, and reduced or loss of driving skills makes participation in anything outside of the home difficult. Constant reliance on others to assist with transportation equates with a sense of dependence not accepted by most.  Loneliness may lead to or heighten an already present state of depression and complicate existing health issues. 

Recognizing loneliness in ourselves and others is the first step to taking action. Doing things for others instead of wanting people to do thing for us is an easy step to take.  Planning ahead for difficult days such as holidays, anniversaries or birthdays is an effective means to diminish those lonely feelings. Accept assistance from family, friends or homecare providers to facilitate transportation and engagement in selected activities.

The feelings of loneliness can be subdued by a variety of measures including; keeping active, getting involved in community affairs, visiting friends, volunteering, joining a social group and attending church to mention a few.

Thinking positive, about others, and toward all the exciting things in life, can help the pain of loneliness soften or disappear. At my dad’s 90th birthday party, from his wheelchair no longer able to walk, he spoke about the blessings in life that each day brings and the gift of family and friends. He could no longer volunteer or go to church and needed assistance for most things, but he never had a lonely day in his life. Helping others that are lonely is a win-win situation and will brighten their day and yours.  Take the time to drop by and say hello.  The gift of time has no price tag.