What is senior isolation, and what can you do to help your senior loved ones.
In these times, more and more aging parents, grandparents, and senior loved ones are living alone, which can leave them vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness.
The current pandemic has made it even more difficult for loving family members to visit a senior frequently.
About 28 percent of older adults in the United States, or 13.8 million people, live alone, according to a report by the Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Aging of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Here are some of the mental and physical health risks of senior isolation and how to help.
What are the effects?
Senior isolation can negatively impact physical and mental health.
According to the National Institute on Aging “Losing a sense of connection and community changes a person’s perception of the world. Someone experiencing chronic loneliness feels threatened and mistrustful of others, which activates a biological defense mechanism, according to Steve Cole, Ph.D., director of the Social Genomics Core Laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles.”
“Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.
People who find themselves unexpectedly alone due to the death of a spouse or partner, separation from friends or family, retirement, loss of mobility, and lack of transportation are at particular risk. Conversely, people who engage in meaningful, productive activities with others tend to live longer, boost their mood, and have a sense of purpose. These activities seem to help maintain their well-being and may improve their cognitive function, studies show.”
Besides, lonely seniors are more likely to smoke, drink in excess, and neglect the need for healthy nutrition and physical activity.
Hence, the importance of watch for signs of isolation in our senior loved ones and address it correspondingly.
How to Help Lonely or Isolated Seniors
Address factors that may contribute to isolation
Reduced mobility, fading eyesight, experiencing a major loss or series of losses, or taking care of another senior that has mobility issues or experiences dementia may lead to isolation and loneliness. Spouses who act as caregivers for their partners are at risk of emotional isolation because they often don’t have time for activities or social outings, even if they are not actually alone.
Ensure seniors have access to the transportation they need. Keep in mind that isolation may limit access to benefits and services that could be potentially helpful to their condition.
Lack of transportation is one of the main reasons why seniors don’t go out as much or as often as they would like. Offering rides to senior loved ones or introducing them to services like Uber can make it easier for them to get out of the house.
Involve friends and family members
Notifying about their isolation and loneliness to other people in their lives can help make a difference. Help seniors to find people to talk to or video chat. Children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, and other relatives can all cooperate.
Senior care facility
Many families have found that the best option to meet their elderly loved one’s need for both care and companionship is choosing a senior care facility with high standards for improving the quality of life for seniors.
In Bridgeway Senior Healthcare we ensure that our residents are living life to the fullest. Each day our community participates in many diverse and exciting events - and even finding safe and fulfilling activities during the pandemic. As a result, giving family members the peace of mind of knowing their loved ones are provided with the daily social activities and social interactions they need.