Comprehensive Guide to Combat Loneliness for a Senior

Humans are social beings – this holds true for people in their Golden Years. Nearly all people feel lonely at some time. However, people of all ages, including seniors, thrive when they have meaningful relationships with family and friends. When seniors feel isolated or cut off from other people, that state of affairs can have a negative impact on a person’s physical and mental health.

For example, loneliness can raise a senior’s heart disease and stroke risk. Loneliness can also enhance a senior’s risk of depression and anxiety. In this article, we provide eight key strategies to assist a senior in combating loneliness:

  • Use technology to keep in touch with others
  • Connect with communities
  • Assist others
  • Get outside
  • Travel virtually
  • Challenge negative thoughts
  • Distractions to fight loneliness
  • Take care of overall mental health

Use Technology to Keep in Touch With Others

When a senior (or any other person) interacts face-to-face, the body releases hormones that reduce stress and stimulate positive emotional responses. However, it is only sometimes possible for seniors to connect with others in person. This inability to connect physically can exist when feelings of loneliness arise. With that said, there are other ways for seniors to connect with others and avoid isolation.

Use video chat. Videoconferencing services, including Zoom, became widespread during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no reason not to use videoconferencing services today when a senior is lonely and wants to connect with others. Video chatting aids a senior in a variety of ways that include:

  • Keeping up with friends and family no matter where they live.
  • Arranging group hangouts with friends to watch movies, play party games, watch sports events, or enjoy happy hour drinks.
  • Join in with webcasts or online tutorials.  

Use the phone. If a senior feels uncomfortable about calling people out of the blue, even when feeling especially lonely, text to schedule a good time to call. Or better still, a senior can schedule regular times each week to talk on the phone with a friend or loved one. This will give a senior something to look forward to regularly. It can reduce the risk of feeling lonely as well.

Write a letter. Some seniors balk at using technology for a variety of reasons. Taking an “old school” approach to avoiding or addressing loneliness is also a wise course for some seniors. Handwriting a letter or postcard to a loved one may not be the fastest way to send a message. However, the time and effort required to write and mail a letter or card make it much more significant to the reader than a text, email, or Facebook post. There are several benefits of writing a handwritten letter on a card to someone else that include:

  • Writing a heartfelt letter can help relieve some of the stress of loneliness.
  • Writing your thoughts down on paper can be a great way to come to terms with what you’re going through at the moment.
  • It can also help you to find things you can feel grateful or positive about.
  • Receiving a letter or postcard in return can brighten a person’s day and make that individual feel better connected.

Connect With Communities

Another way seniors can combat loneliness is by connecting to different communities. These connections can be made in the brick-and-mortar world as well as online.

Connecting with others doesn’t have to be limited to close friends, family, or work colleagues. Communicating with strangers can help combat loneliness and the negative effects of social isolation. You might develop lifelong friendships as you branch out and talk to people in online or offline spaces or communities. Tactics to employ to connect with communities include:

  • Identify people with similar hobbies and interests through online platforms like
  • Attend peer support meetings to improve your health.
  • Stop by local events where you might run into like-minded people, such as concerts, sports events, open-mic nights, art gallery walks, etc.
  • Join a book club, either online or in the brick-and-mortar world.
  • Use social media to reconnect with former contacts and expand your social network.
  • Participate in social media groups and online forums for topics that interest you.
  • Play multiplayer games online or join a fantasy sports league.
  • Try a dating app if you’re single or meet new people using a live video chat.

Assist Others

Volunteering and assisting others are yet other ways seniors can combat loneliness. Volunteer opportunities abound for seniors. Some of the important ways in which a senior can assist others include some basic, easy-to-undertake things like:

  • Run errands for a neighbor in need, such as fetching medications or groceries for a person unable to get around easily. This may be another senior. A person really can build social connections while making life easier for people with physical or mental disabilities or people who feel overwhelmed by their daily errands. 
  • Becoming a mentor is another way for a senior to ease loneliness. Seniors can take younger people under their wing. Not only does mentoring help a younger person grow, but it also gives a senior a chance to bond with them. Seniors can search for local and national organizations to help match them with kids who need mentoring.
  • Seniors can also volunteer for causes that are important to them. These causes can run the gambit from campaigning for a political cause, walking shelter animals, or feeding the homeless. As well as serving the community, volunteering can help seniors develop a meaningful sense of connection with other people. If a senior has limited mobility or cannot leave home for whatever reason, seniors can often still volunteer for tasks such as making or answering calls or sending emails for different purposes.

Get Outside

Loneliness for seniors can be compounded by the fact that many older people spend excessive time at home and away from others. The simple fact of just getting outside of the home can assist seniors in combating loneliness. Going for a walk in a park can open the door to a senior meeting new people.

Some strategies you can use when going outside to improve your overall health and well-being and connect with others include walking around your neighborhood. Taking a different route daily and discovering new places can be a stimulating experience. Different routes allow seniors to cross paths with new people.

Spending time in public places can also help prevent senior loneliness. A senior can head out to a restaurant, coffee shop, or shopping mall food court. Simply being within eyeshot of others can help some people feel less alone. It also increases the odds of meeting new people.

Taking part in outdoor hobbies can also be helpful to a senior when it comes to combating loneliness. There is a wealth of different hobby options available to seniors that take them outside and into contact with others.

Travel Virtually

Mental health professionals have concluded that virtual travel can aid a senior in reducing a sense of loneliness. There are several different options that a senior can take advantage of under the category of virtual travel. These include:

  • Recreate a trip a senior always wanted to take
  • Take a virtual vacation
  • “Attend” online concerts, theatre performances, and other events
  • Relive a favorite trip from a senior’s past
  • Plan for future travels

Challenge Negative Thoughts

Another way a senior can counter loneliness is to challenge negative thoughts. Strategies a senior can employ to challenge negative thoughts and loneliness include:

  • Note any negative thought that leaves you feeling upset or lonely.
  • Challenge the thought by asking yourself: “Do I know that for sure?” or “What would I say to a friend who thought the same?”
  • Change a negative thought to a more helpful way of thinking.

Distractions to Fight Loneliness

Distractions can help combat loneliness for a senior. In other words, focusing on something else productive or positive can help fight loneliness. Examples of these types of distractions include:

  • Do something creative, like writing memoirs, painting, practicing a craft, or learning to cook.
  • Improve your home by decorating a room.
  • Take a class, listen to a lecture or new album, or explore a museum.
  • Create a family tree using a genealogy website.
  • Find comfort in animals. Adopting a pet is a big move but caring for an animal provides excellent companionship.

Take Care of Overall Mental Health

Seniors can lower the risk of experiencing loneliness by taking care of their overall mental health. This includes six key steps:

  1. Get enough exercise. Exercise is not only good for your physical health but also your mental health. A moderate amount of exercise can help improve your mood and reduce stress.
  2. Eat a healthy diet. Eating a balanced diet helps keep your body and mind healthy. Make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and avoid processed foods and sugary snacks.
  3. Get enough sleep. Most people need around eight hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep can have a negative impact on your mood and mental health.
  4. Take breaks during the day. When you’re constantly busy, finding time to relax and rejuvenate can be hard. But it’s important to make time for yourself every day. Take a few minutes each day to do something calming, like reading or walking outdoors.
  5. Connect with others. Spending time with loved ones can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Social interaction is an important part of human nature and can help you feel connected and supported.
  6. Seek professional help if needed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling with your mental health, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor. They can offer you support and guidance during difficult times.

 By integrating these different strategies, seniors can place themselves in the best position to stave off loneliness and isolation. They can enhance their overall sense of well-being consistently.