Feelings of loneliness and isolation can pose serious physical and emotional health risks for seniors. According to research on isolation in seniors, 18% of seniors live alone, and 43% report feeling lonely on a daily basis. Luckily, there are ways to recognize the warning signs of isolation, and prevent or reduce feelings of loneliness in our loved ones.
What are the risks of isolation?
Strong social ties are beneficial for both mental and physical health. According to recent research, senior isolation is related to increased cognitive decline, long-term illness like depression, poor diet, and increased mortality. Loneliness can prevent seniors from healing quickly from illness or injury, which can isolate them even further. Isolation also causes seniors to be more vulnerable for abuse and fraud, and living alone can make them easy victims for burglary or scams.
What are the warning signs of isolation?
For many seniors, isolation can be both emotionally and physically harmful. While living alone does not inherently mean that a senior is lonely, it can be a predisposing factor to social isolation. As we age, our social interactions tend to decrease, whether it is due to illness, lack of mobility, or the loss of friends or family. Some of the warning signs of isolation in seniors can include a reduced appetite, a reluctance to participate in social activities, and a depressed demeanor. By recognizing some of these symptoms, seniors can regain the confidence and social ties necessary to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Preventing or reducing loneliness
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to prevent and reduce the symptoms of loneliness in our loved ones. Perhaps this means a changing living situations so they can be closer to family or friends, or even moving to a retirement community where seniors can form new relationships. Another way to prevent loneliness is by participating in group activities like fitness classes, book clubs, or social outings to the movies or theater. Retirement communities can offer seniors a safer place to live with plenty of organized social activities, which is key to preventing loneliness and isolation.