“Loneliness is the sadness that comes from missing companionship, being disconnected from your familiarity or the feeling of lacking purpose,”
Dr. Judy Ryan, former President/CEO of the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society.
Risk Factors for Loneliness
It is possible to lessen the effects of loneliness in those around us, but it takes a community and a willingness to connect in meaningful ways. Are you able to help your church leader identify those affected by social isolation and loneliness? Do you know the factors that can lead to loneliness?
Everyone needs someone. Without some human interaction, it is impossible to feel connected. Living alone happens for a variety of reasons and can be managed to some extent. But the problem is compounded when adults are isolated geographically, children live far away or siblings and friends die.
Difficulty in Leaving the Home
Having no transportation or not being able to drive can easily lead to isolation. The double-edged sword is that lack of transportation can also affect an individual’s health treatment plan. Without a ride to the doctor’s office or to pick up prescriptions, seniors may suffer.
Major life transitions
Retiring from work, or being unable to volunteer because of a disability, can leave a huge hole in a social network. Moving into a new community can be isolating as well. It’s not always easy to make connections.
With money comes the ability to live more comfortably, to be more mobile or to hire a caregiver. The lack of income can be a barrier to obtaining these things.
Being a Caregiver
Taking care of a new baby, a child with special needs or someone with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s or any other debilitating ailment, is lonely business. Living in someone else’s world can be all-consuming, leaving caregivers at a big risk for isolation.
Being in a Rural Area
Individuals who live in rural areas may be separated by great distances from companions. They also may have family members who have moved away and are no longer close enough to visit on a regular basis, leaving them vulnerable.
Small Network of Friends
As people grow older, the number of close friends they have often shrinks. In the case of rural areas, their church and community may be shrinking, too.