For many seniors, Thanksgiving is a lonely time

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, and for millions of Americans, it is a day of spending time with family and friends.

But for many seniors, Thanksgiving is a day of loneliness and sadness. According to a 2008 study from Dr. Carla Perissinotto, an assistant clinical professor at the University of California at San Francisco, nearly half of all seniors – 43 per cent – said they felt lonely at least sometimes.

ThanksgivingOf that number, about two-thirds of senior respondents said they sometimes felt lonely, and one-third said they frequently felt lonely.

And loneliness is not just the feeling of being without companionship; it can also have severe impacts on a senior’s health.
According to Dr. Perissinotto’s study, older adults who report feelings of loneliness are 45 per cent more likely than their non-lonely peers to die in any given year.

So what do lonely seniors look like?

According to the New York Times, loneliness can sometimes become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“As you get older, you see the world writing you off,” 85 year-old Barbara Dane told the newspaper. “So you tend to become passive and think, ‘I don’t want to bother anybody.’ You lose contact with your own kind, your tribe. And before you know it, you’re feeling bad.”

How do you think people – including seniors – can better fight loneliness and forge meaningful connections with the people around them? Tell us in the comment section below: