How can loneliness lead to depression in Senior Citizens?

Ageing is a natural process among all living organisms; as we age, certain changes take place. Some of the physical changes are a loss of energy, which can result in slowing down, which impacts mobility while doing things like walking. Memory also decreases, so it would be hard to remember and recall things. Another problem with the elderly is chronic illness. There are also social changes that take place as we grow older. Many of the elderly are not actively involved in work since they have retired or do not have the ability to work. Some of their colleagues and friends have moved to different locations and are not in touch. Some have lost their spouses, and for some, the children have moved to different locations. So we have much fewer people with whom we interact, which leads to loneliness.

As you age, social connections reduce, and you are not able to interact in a meaningful way with the people around you. It is enjoyable to share thoughts and feelings with someone with whom you have something in common. Not being able to express yourself can lead to depression. Sharing an old incident or an old joke will definitely be very satisfying, but as you grow older, you do not have that type of company.

The symptoms of depression in the elderly are:

  • lack of energy
  • Loss or increased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Constant despair
  • Hopelessness, or Helplessness or worthless
  • Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed.
  • Some have difficulty concentrating or making decisions.

These could lead to an inability to function independently and even result in suicide. It is important to take the necessary action early. Treatment for depression in older adults may include medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. In addition, social support, exercise, and healthy lifestyle choices can also be beneficial in managing depression in older adults. It is important for the caregivers of the elderly to take appropriate action if they see any of these symptoms.

Some of the ways to reduce the effects of social isolation are to engage in exercises like going for a walk, preferably together with a few other people. Encourage them to develop hobbies, join clubs, or volunteer for some work. Help them use social media so that they can keep in touch with others. Encourage them to take care of pets. Having some activity that they can do will help them reduce the effects of loneliness.

According to the United Nations, the number of people aged 60 and above is expected to double by 2050 and triple by 2100. In 2020, the global population of people aged 60 and above was around 703 million, which accounted for 9.1% of the world’s population. By 2050, the global population of people aged 60 and above is projected to reach 1.5 billion, which will account for 16% of the world’s population. So people born before the 1990s will be senior citizens by 2050. All those born before 2040 will be senior citizens by the turn of the century. With the numbers increasing, so will the problems like anxiety and depression. There is a need to focus on our senior citizens. So it is important to realise that as the number of our senior citizens increases, so will the problems like anxiety and depression among them. We need to take steps to mitigate the problem. Let’s take care of senior citizens before we become seniors.

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