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Harvard Health Blog
How can you help a loved one suffering from loneliness?
- By Stephanie Collier, MD, MPH, Contributor
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
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.
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.
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.
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.!
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!
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!
Thank you so much I hope I didn’t get my mothers suffering from lonely
Thanks for the great suggestions! I’ll suggest listening to favorite music. Worship music lifts my spirit and encourages me.
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 “
Yes! Being thankful works.
Andi I want to thank Stephanie Collier and all of you who posted a comment. Thanks thanks thanks.
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.
This popped up at a very timely moment. Thank you so very much
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.
I swear loneliness can kill faster than any other disease. Thank you for the tips!
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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