At times, senior citizens may lack energy. They may struggle to fall asleep. They also may find it difficult to concentrate. These are all signs of loneliness.
According to Todd Edwards, a licensed professional counselor at Rush Foundation Hospital, oftentimes loneliness is a loss of emotional and social support.
"A person may be lonely if they don't have the emotional strength to develop and to maintain supportive relationships," said Edwards. "A person who is lonely is often isolated from the people they need to help them maneuver through a very difficult time in their life."
These difficult times can vary greatly in the areas of life being impacted. Edwards says loneliness is often the result of stress that can build up over financial problems or medical conditions.
"Sometimes seniors are lonely just because they are overwhelmed with the stress of maintaining their finances or they are often adjusting to new living situations," he said.
Other signs of loneliness are feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness. Edwards says because of these signs, depression is often confused with loneliness.
"In fact, loneliness is a precursor or a symptom of depression," Edwards said. "And a person who is lonely may feel some heaviness, they may feel hopelessness. They just don't have the help and the support that they need to maneuver through that stage of their life."
According to Edwards, senior citizens can become lonely because they feel as if there is nothing to look forward to. But, he says there are steps for seniors to regain vitality.
"To find new hobbies, to develop new relationships," said Edwards. "They may be able to learn something new."