Gary's Guidance: Loneliness

August 2012

Gary’s Guidance


Loneliness more often than not silently exists, especially so with older adults.  Being alone is different from being lonely.  There are many people who prefer to be alone by having infrequent social contact with others, but they consider themselves content and happy.  The loneliness that I want to address is linked with isolation, separation, and loss.  Loneliness comes about by unintended circumstances, and sometimes by intentional personal choice.  For instance, unintended loneliness occurs when someone moves from their home into a senior living community and does not know anyone.  The separation from home, neighborhood and community may bring on psychological and emotional isolation as well as physical isolation from friends and family.  There may be a grief response along with loneliness too.  Loneliness can simply be a state of mind.  As one thinks about being alone it causes one’s loneliness to feel even worse.  Personal choice may cause loneliness when someone decides not to participate and avoids getting involved with social activities.  Here are a few remedies to combat loneliness:

1. Decide that loneliness is unacceptable to you and that you are going to defeat it.

2. Make a social connection(s) and take responsibility for following through with action.  Take initiative for an interaction with someone.  The goal is to have a companion.

3. Participate in activities that you enjoy and know about.  The purposeful engagement in an activity serves as a positive diversion while relieving your mind from thinking of loneliness.

4. Stop comparing yourself with others who you see as not being lonely, but happy with fulfilling relationships.  Making negative comparisons to others will simply make you feel emotionally awful.

5. Reinvest in old friendships by making the initial contact and follow-up with a plan to do something together.

Loneliness, if left alone, will not go away on its own.  In closing, try to do some of these remedies and see if you feel less lonely.

Gary Kozick, LCSW

(215) 510-8901