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How can you help a loved one suffering from loneliness?

September 4, 2020

About the Author

photo of Stephanie Collier, MD, MPH

Stephanie Collier, MD, MPH, Contributor

Dr. Stephanie Collier is the director of education in the division of geriatric psychiatry at McLean Hospital; consulting psychiatrist for the population health management team at Newton-Wellesley Hospital; and instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. … See Full Bio
View all posts by Stephanie Collier, MD, MPH


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Phyllis Austin
September 15, 2020

Thank you for the idea of taking a break from the news cycle. That really helps. I spend my time reading and writing letters to others. It really helps.

Dan Peacock
September 14, 2020

Taking a break from the 24/7 news cycle once a week and doing some project that you can control can be amazingly therapeutic. Limiting one’s attention to the news during the other six days of the week is also very beneficial.

Harry Whitaker
September 14, 2020

Consider a pet (dog, cat, bird, &c). If a live pet is not feasible due to living conditions, consider a robot pet. There are a surprising number of robot pets on the market these days, from ones that look like robots to ones that simulate animals. One of my favorites is a robot seal, small enough to hold in one’s lap.

September 14, 2020

I live surrounded by my adult children and their young family but am lonely most of the time. We’re on vastly different wavelengths. My dear pup became ill and left this world in February. The family does not encourage my replacing him (I’m old and it spells trouble for them), yet I know it would be a turnaround for me. I strongly urge anyone whose circumstances allow it to reach out to that pup who needs rescue. Guaranteed to take a bite out of loneliness.!

Joan Burke
September 16, 2020

Hi,My dog died a few years ago about age 17 and I have not been in a place in life to take on another dog. I found quite by chance a local family who let me become their part time dog family! I always get the dog when they go on vacation or if they get too busy working and aren’t at home as much. Also, sometimes I just say “I miss the dog!” ~ and they let me have her a few days! It has worked out amazingly for all of us. I help them out and it helps me immensely… and the dog might have spent a lot more lonely time at home or in crate, so I’m sure it helps the dog, too! I highly recommend a part time dog!

Sandra Oliverio
September 14, 2020

My sister lives out of state and in a senior building, where visitors are not allowed as yet. I joined the app DUO and it truly made a difference that was visible as well as in her voice. She felt like she had visited with me! I now try to do it at least once a week or more. And, the app is free!

Suhaila Fadol
September 14, 2020

Thank you so much I hope I didn’t get my mothers suffering from lonely

Mary M
September 14, 2020

Thanks for the great suggestions! I’ll suggest listening to favorite music. Worship music lifts my spirit and encourages me.

Sarah Morgan
September 14, 2020

From personal experience I am aware that loneliness can be crippling. Lowering self esteem, confidence and self belief. We are all born as relational beings, this was a necessity when people were not at the top of the “food chain”.
Our culture attaches status and meaning to those who are socially aware and make friends easily. Yet being social butterfly often hides a weak sense of self, a need for validation.
To be happy in our own skin, whilst maintaining the boundary of how we will be treated. Our true self needs us to believe in ourselves, not social media, movies, or for others to see us as happy shiny people.The final word, the final inch of us and our dignity kept safe. For you this realisation is waiting, as are other people waiting and looking for a person like yourself. ultimately “. Ultimately the most important words to be spoken are “I Am Myself “

September 14, 2020

Yes! Being thankful works.
Andi I want to thank Stephanie Collier and all of you who posted a comment. Thanks thanks thanks.

Florrie Gramm
September 14, 2020

I like all the tips. I am 74 and my husband 72, and we love to read. So I would add reading to the list of things to keep loneliness away.

September 14, 2020

This popped up at a very timely moment. Thank you so very much

Juli T.
September 7, 2020

Find something that makes you laugh. Re-watch the old movie, “Money Pit”. This movie never fails to make me laugh. I keep an old VHS copy. Also, my husband, dog, and I take a prayer walk every evening. Write your memoirs. Take this time to do something educational. We listen to Great Courses on Kanopy through our public library website.

September 5, 2020

I swear loneliness can kill faster than any other disease. Thank you for the tips!

September 4, 2020

Loneliness is a very real thing and hard to deal with. I think one of the things that help me is doing something you are passionate about. You can usually find groups of other people to get involved with.

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