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Stay socially active to beat the stress of loneliness

Sanjukta Sen | November, 22 2016

Isolation and loneliness are widespread among our elders. Most elders prefer to remain in their own homes as they age. Family members living at a distance may feel at a loss as to how to help. Even with a caregiver coming in to assist, there is still a lack of fun, excitement and connection to peers.
In medical terms, loneliness has been linked to higher blood pressure and depression, and an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Engaging in social activities like participating in hobby clubs or volunteer groups may help the elderly relieve the stress of loneliness as well as slow down the decline in their ability to manage daily activities crucial to an individuals' independence and quality of life, say, researchers.
If you enjoy a good read, you might enjoy being part of a book club. Having a heart condition, or other health condition, can sometimes contribute to loneliness, for example, if you’ve had to give up work or other activities you enjoy.
Retirement is a great time to pick up old hobbies again or even take up new ones. 
If there’s a charity or organisation you support, why not volunteer to help it? It can be a great opportunity to get out of the house, meet new people and feel useful. Charity shops play an important role raising funds for good causes and often need an extra pair of hands.
If looking after your garden has become too strenuous, it doesn’t mean that your gardening days are over. It’s a great way to get some fresh air and gentle exercise, and rewarding to grow your own flowers or vegetables.
If your friends or family live far away or you can’t go out to meet them, programmes such as Skype can help you to keep in touch. Skype allows you to video call someone for free, wherever they are in the world (as long as you both have internet access) so you can see them when you talk.
One of the best ways to  meet new people and be sociable is over a meal. There are schemes across the country that offer free or inexpensive lunches, coffee mornings and meetups for older people, and some also provide transport. Your council or GP or local Age UK should have information on these kinds of events in your area.
Lonely ageing parents are in a vulnerable position.  Having a good social life and fun things outside the home, there is less risk of dependency on sweepstakes con men.

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