Anyone have suggestions or insight to battle loneliness?

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I witnessed my grandmother experience extreme loneliness even though her house was full of company. On any given day she may have 15 guests or visitors. She didn't go a day without some company. Even though her mind was clear, she began to differentiate between types of company. Those that came often were no longer beneficial to her feelings of loneliness. I am beginning to see this in my mother who has dementia. For her, she needs constant distraction to fight the loneliness. Even when my sister who she loves and admires stayed with her, the need to go and be in public or have other company did not subside. As we plan to move mom to assisted living, one that is beautiful and active, how can we address this loneliness? Is it just depression? She insists it isn't, and that she's a happy person and can stay alone with no problem. But her actions show different. We would like to be proactive in helping her with this. She will also have company at least twice weekly. Any suggestions or insight?

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I've told this story before: My grandmother was a feisty, independent woman who was loved by her family and many people in the community. Despite her poor eyesight she made it a point to remain active in the community, volunteering through her church and women's groups, and keeping active with gardening, crocheting by feel, and daily walks. She kept up an active correspondence with distant friends and relatives and had visits from friends and family at least once a week. Despite that she professed to being lonely. I think her loneliness was a kind that has no cure, she felt the weight of all the family and friends who had already passed on, she missed having her beloved husband to share the quiet of the evenings and the activities of the day.
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I'm seeing this as well, and sometimes experiencing it myself, seguing back to the days of work, arriving to find a big bag of bagels that someone had brought in, discussing the difficulties of traveling to work during snow storms, just light bantering back and forth. Or maybe it's a trip down memory lane and the first day of spring gardening, of that first heavy snowfall and the pleasure of digging out then rewarding myself with a cup of hot chocolate.

It's the days when strength and flexibility were better than they are now. And it's the days when Dad and I could do things together, without an oxygen tank.

But I'm also remembering the highlights of my life, wishing there had been more and trying to think of ways to continue those reinforcing events in the future.

CWillie is right. I think the loneliness is actually a longing for the past, brought on by reminiscing of days gone by, contrasting better times with the sober and perhaps frightening contemplation of days ahead which because of age limitations and already departed family will never be as rewarding as those in the past.

I'm trying "reconfigure" these events in my mind and think of ways I can contribute to the younger generation, to share the memories I have and help them bond with existing family, not with their tech devices.
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I noticed my Dad was having some loneliness even though he had caregivers, it just wasn't the same as being around people from his own generation. The best thing he did was move into Independent Living in a senior living complex, he was happy as a clam.

The equity in his house was used to pay for the monthly rent, so I was happy he had saved for this "rainy day".

Even thought Dad was a shy person, he kept his apartment door opened and other residents would walk by and yell in "Hi Bob", and that always made him smile. He loved meal time, as he sat with the same table mates who had lived in his neck of the woods when he was much younger.

As for myself, I left work for almost 2 years as my position was eliminated because I took too much time off to help my parents, and I jumped right back in as soon as a spot at another company was available.  That in itself was a life saver for me.  Going to work always made me feel better.
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people with dementia can be very adept at hiding their confusion. They will give responses that are vague enough to make sense. But in truth they can be unable to follow the plot line of a movie or TV show, as well as a discussion. Imagine visitors who are talking to you but you are having trouble keeping up with the discussion. When you finally think of something to contribute, the topic of conversation has moved to something else. So you sit quietly, feeling more and more isolated from the rest of the world. Your subconscious guides you when to laugh or smile, so they think you're interested, but you can't really follow what they are saying a lot of the time.

My mom asked to go for drives every day. She could comment on the sun, trees, cows, pastures other cars and not worry about saying the wrong thing. Everything was present and immediate; no following a storyline or having to remember something from the past. She must have pointed out 25 - 30 livestock pastures and informed me that she use to play golf there. We would say we were going on adventure and find roads we had never driven before. Those were her happiest times, when her limitations and isolation did not bear down on her.
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Dear Owl...I am seeing this very thing with my 87 yo mom. She lived with us for 3 months after my step dad passed on....which was a complete nightmare...then we moved her to an apartment near us...where her need to be with people...us...constantly ..leaving me feeling drained emotionally and physically...then....thankfully an apartment in a senior complex..independent living opened up....she spends very little time in her apartment...and is always socializing with her peers. I think she really misses the companionship she had with my stepdad...and this was once a fiesty independant lady. My thought is...they..as are we all..facing our mortality...even with her faith...no one wants to die alone....
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I guess a dog might help. Or going to adult care at the local senior center. I think we all feel more lonely as we get older. I know I sure do.
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My mother's mother was a "people person" and had tons of friends. Once, she was laid up with a surgery and placed herself on her LR sofa like Cleopatra....left the front door unlocked for all and sundry to wander in and out. She was in pain, I am sure, but it never stopped her from making the most of the company. She did need some help and I went one day to help her and had to fight off the "friends" who were all there--I had to get grandma up and into the shower--so the friends hung around and played canasta until she was back, in a fresh peignoir (look THAT up) and fresh as a daisy. Reclined on the couch and picked up where she left off. She had pals around until the day she died, She acted in small theatres until she was 91. What a dynamo.

My mother has no visitors, beyond myself and a few church people "assigned" to her. She doesn't dress up or even attempt to be very friendly. She is lonely without doubt, but she has outlived most of her friends, she refused to move to Assisted Living (a LOVELY community) where she would have made friends. She is unsteady on her feet and since refusing outside aides to help her, brother (with whom she lives) will not allow her to take one single "stair" on her own. She is essentially captive in her apartment. She has one couple who will drive her to Bingo one day for 3 hours and brother or one of his kids takes her grocery shopping one day. Nobody ever visits, she has pushed us all away, one by one, with anger and nastiness and the sheer boredom of her talking about the "better days" (which weren't that great). My hubby hasn't even seen her in 18 months. And we live 2 miles away.

Sadly, she's chosen this loneliness. There are plenty of opportunities to make friends and be a friend and she will pick out one person (they have to be able to drive) and make them her new best friend. She's running out of those.

Some people are chronically lonely. Mother won't even go on a drive to see the fall colors. She might go to lunch, but I can't eat lunch at 10:30 am. Or dinner at 4.


Also, it isn't my place to find friends for her.

Her mother, on the other hand, loved nothing more than a rambling, no-place-in-mind drive all afternoon, throw a couple great grandkids in the backseat and we'd have a jolly good time.

I could live to be 200 and I would never understand how 2 such different creatures co-existed for so long.
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I, too, have the same problem. I don't have any family in the area in which I live in. I joined an adult coloring book club at the library in my city, and it is lots of fun. I also would like to rejoin knitting group; I have been with lots of knitting groups in the library. When I got my first apartment eight years ago, I joined a knitting group, and I loved it. There was once a jewelry making session and I took my niece there, and then I took her out to dinner. It was so much fun
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Frequently, these old folks' loneliness is self-styled. They isolate themselves for whatever reason.

Can't stand not being in charge. Can't hear. Don't want others to discover their toileting issues. Are slipping mentality and don't want to reveal it to others. Picky eater. Fear. Anxiety. Wants a sycophant, not companionship.

It's exasperating for those who are closest to the elder. We hear common sense suggestions from people on the "outside." We even agree with them!

But when the elder won't budge, we caregivers are reduced to being the elder's puppet. And the only way we caregivers can keep the richness in our own lives is to commit to activities and experiences that exclude the elder.

Crazy, inn'it?
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Try and contact the agency that handles elder affairs in your state they may be able to provide your Mother with Adult Day Care sources. Even if your Mother exceeds the low income limit or has too much money in the bank to attend every day they should be able to qualify her for a few days. Normally the Adult Day Care will have some affiliation with some form of door to door transportation and that should be covered for the two days or more depending on her financial status.
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