Loneliness raises the odds of premature death by 26%, and increases the odds of stroke by 32%. It’s a growing epidemic in the US. Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford of the Family Matters Counseling Group says there is good news, though.
“Loneliness is a state --- not a condition!”
That state can become a condition if not recognized.
“It is at that point of recognition that you can significant changes in your life. Change your routine, exercise more, watch less TV, or take a cooking class! It doesn’t have to transition into depression.”
Many senior citizens find themselves lonely after a lifetime of activity. If this is happening to one of your parents, you can help them and other elders in your life. The Journal of Aging suggests you find places where they can help - not the other way around. Helping others builds accomplishment, self-esteem, creative thinking and often places new people in their lives. With just a bit of research, you can find non-profits and schools in their area who need some help. If they are still able to garden – neighbors and schools will love to have them! See if there’s a Master Gardner class in the area. If they’re unable to do the physical work, they can advise others. Animal shelters are always looking for someone to occasionally walk their dogs, schools need reading tutors, and there’s always something to do at a church. If your mom or aunt can still do needlework, a shop would enjoy their presence and know-how with customers. And easiest of all --- call them and ask for some advice! It can be about home repairs, gardening, cooking, raising kids --- you get the idea.
There is an epidemic of loneliness growing among teens – and it leads to depression and possibly self-harm. If your child is lonely and at a “dangerous age” --- let them know what you do when you're feeling down i.e., take a walk, call someone (if he has someone to call) or organize your back pack (it gives a feeling of accomplishment). Ask him about school and what he enjoys then see if there are any activities surrounding his interest. If your kid is in high school and hating it, bring the conversation to transition planning for life after high school. That can help her feel more in control and less isolated.