Coping with Loneliness

While anyone can feel lonely, seniors are more at risk because of the limitations that come with age such as less mobility and fewer social connections.

Facts About Living Alone



Older Americans live alone more than anyone else in the world compared to other cultures where multi-generational households are more common.


In America, approximately 27% of seniors over 60 live alone, either by choice or circumstance. More women find themselves alone as they tend to outlive partners and spouses.


With Covid, people across the globe have faced new understandings about isolation, being alone, loneliness, and solitude. Even in a household full of people, loneliness can be a reality.


Renowned psychologist and the late director for the Center of Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, John T. Cacioppo, Ph.D., pioneered the field of social neuroscience with a particular interest in loneliness. Through his work, he has found certain universal truths about loneliness.

  • You can still be surrounded by people and feel alone.
  • Social skills, or lack thereof, aren’t a factor in feeling lonely.
  • Loneliness can lead to further social withdrawal.



New Ways for Seniors to Deal with Loneliness


If you’re feeling lonely, consider the following to help you seek a new path.


  • Think about your physical surroundings and relationships. Is there something you can change or someone you can talk to about feeling lonely? When we stop and look for opportunities, we may find small changes will have a big impact.
  • Perceptions about family gatherings may tend toward idealistic notions. In fact, stressful travel, extra cooking, financial strains and family tension are all common in any family. 


Spending time with family is ideal, but if that isn’t possible, how can you recreate a gathering or connection? Perhaps with a neighbor who is also alone? Look around you and consider who may be feeling the same.


  • Technology creates many opportunities to prevent loneliness for seniors; but it can also fail to build meaningful connections, especially if it leads to greater feelings of inadequacy or depression. If you’d like to gain more confidence with technology, Conviva offers seniors many opportunities to learn and gain more knowledge.


Instead of endless browsing with no goal, think about how technology best suits your personal goals. These might include:


Finding a private Facebook group whose interests match yours. With more than half of Americans over 50 on Facebook, this is an active online community.


Groups exist for almost any hobby, interest, or lifestyle from gardening to music. You can follow their news, events, and future gatherings. A private group is also more selective with members, allowing for a greater degree of security.


Video chats allow you to virtually join the family during a specific moment. Or, if the phone is still best, call an old friend to catch up and share stories.


Social media offers different levels of engagement. If you’re a crafter or enjoy more visual experiences, Instagram or Pinterest can be inspirational and fun.


  • According to Cacioppo, giving and supporting others is perhaps the best way to escape loneliness. When giving, we’re not focused as much on our own circumstances. We’re focused on the needs of others. 


Endless opportunities exist to volunteer, help at a festival, be part of a toy or food drive, or lend a hand to a faith-based organization.


Conviva invites you to visit with other seniors during our community events held at select Conviva Care Centers. To learn more about our events, visit Become a Patient.





How Caregivers Can Ease Loneliness


Family and caregivers can make a big difference with small acts of giving.


Including seniors in family traditions whenever possible encourages goodwill all around.


  • Bake a favorite dish or dessert together
  • Help seniors with greeting cards or letters
  • Watch a favorite movie together
  • Invite a senior neighbor over for dessert and coffee
  • Spend time organizing photo albums together