The Impact of Social Isolation on Seniors

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The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 28 percent of seniors 65 and older live alone. According to statistics obtained in 2014, approximately half of women 75 years of age or older live alone. They might be alone secondary to divorce or spousal death, or they may have never been married. Older adults may also live a long distance from their grown children. Being alone puts aging adults at risk for becoming socially isolated, which poses several mental and physical problems. 

 

Depression

Research indicates that isolated seniors may feel lonely, which commonly leads to depression. The symptoms of depression are more common in older adults and may lead to weight loss or gain and interfere with normal sleep patterns. Even if you live a distance away, you can still keep in touch with your elderly parent via phone calls, text messages, or video chats. Encourage your loved one to become more socially active within the community. 

Social activity is only one of many components that contribute to robust mental and physical health in seniors. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care. Naples families can rely on Assisting Hands Home Care to provide individualized care plans to meet their elderly loved ones’ unique care needs. Our caregivers help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and we offer mentally stimulating activities that can boost cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia.

 

Cognitive Decline

Neuroscientists from the University of Chicago studied the effects of isolation in older adults over three decades. They found that isolated seniors are more likely to experience diminishing cognitive performance and the onset of dementia. Older adults who live alone may not engage in activities designed to adequately stimulate the brain, which also needs social stimulation. 

 

Unhealthy Lifestyle

Data obtained from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing reveals that isolated seniors are more likely to have unhealthy habits. They may lead sedentary lifestyles, have a poor diet, or smoke or drink alcohol excessively. By increasing social activity, older adults are more likely to take better care of themselves. 

 

Chronic Illness

Solitary adults often have chronic medical conditions, such as arthritis, impaired mobility, or chronic respiratory diseases. A Psychology and Aging research team found that lonely older adults develop a gradual increase in blood pressure, which could lead to heart problems, a higher stroke risk, or kidney disease. 

 

Reduced Longevity

A study performed by the National Academy of Sciences determined that isolated and lonely seniors have shorter life spans. Several factors contribute to reduced longevity, including a lack of regular healthcare and an unhealthy lifestyle. 

Seniors who don’t receive routine healthcare and practice healthy lifestyles could develop serious illnesses, making it a challenge to care for themselves on their own. If your senior loved one needs around-the-clock assistance at home, the Naples, FL, live-in care professionals at Assisting Hands Home Care are here to help. Our caregivers promote longevity by encouraging seniors to focus on healthy eating, regular exercise, mental engagement, and other important lifestyle factors.

 

Increased Risk of Abuse

The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that isolation and elder abuse are closely connected. Seniors might be targeted because they live alone. Sometimes the abuser isolates the senior to prevent him or her from reporting abuse. Maintain close contact with your loved one to ensure he or she stays safe. 

 

Socializing Strategies

Encourage your loved one to maintain social ties with friends. They might simply enjoy each other’s company over a cup of coffee. Perhaps they could take walks or engage in other types of physical exercise that benefit their health. Seniors are likely to establish new friendships at church, senior centers, or community functions. Many communities provide ample opportunity for seniors to get out of their homes and participate in some type of volunteer work. 

Social isolation can result in mental, emotional, and physical challenges for aging adults, but seniors don’t have to manage them alone. Homecare services agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. Our caregivers encourage seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. To learn about our premier in-home care plans and how they can help your loved one, give us a call today. 

 



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