Seniors who live by themselves naturally feel lonely at times. Those whose spouses have passed on or who don't have family in the area often feel isolated and all alone in the world. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, of those age 65 and older, 28% lived alone in 2010. While many seniors have friends and engage in an active social life, many others do not because of decreased mobility, the death of close friends, and other factors.
Our home caregivers want to share a few facts about seniors and isolation you may find surprising.
Isolation in seniors leads to a higher risk of mortality. In adults age 52 and older, loneliness and/or social isolation can increase the risk of mortality according to a Proceedings of the National Academy of Science study conducted in 2012.
Feelings of loneliness are connected to a quicker cognitive decline, increased risk of dementia, and poor cognitive performance. We're a "social" species, and interacting with others is vital to mental and cognitive health.
LGBT seniors are far more likely to live alone and experience social isolation. Many never have children and remain single. Additionally, many families of those who are gay are estranged, not to mention the stigma and discrimination that unfortunately still remains in our society. This leads to isolation for many in the LGBT community as they age.
Regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity, loneliness causes an increase in systolic blood pressure for older adults.
Isolation in seniors can lead to unhealthy behavior. From eating unhealthy foods to smoking and avoiding exercise, loneliness can result in risky health behaviors. Being connected socially often results in an overall healthier lifestyle.
Seniors who are isolated are more likely to require long-term care. Seniors who are lonely or socially isolated are far more likely to enter nursing homes or require assistance if living at home. On the bright side, utilizing in home care services or assisted living facilities often helps connect seniors to others and provides much-needed support.
Isolation and loneliness often lead to depression in not only older adults, but those who are middle-aged. Many studies in recent years support the fact that loneliness is a major contributor to depression.
Long-term illness is often a result of senior isolation. Whether depression as mentioned above or arthritis, impaired mobility, or even chronic lung disease, social isolation can have a devastating impact on seniors in terms of illness. In home care, family visits, phone calls, even connecting online can help prevent isolation and in turn, reduce the risk of long-term illness.
At Care Indeed, we realize that many seniors experience loneliness and isolation, and that it's important for family members and loved ones to stay connected to those who are aging as much as possible. However, we also realize that people lead very busy lives, and it's often impossible to stay as close to a senior as you would like. Our San Francisco home care experts help fill in the gaps, providing your loved one with not only companionship, but care, attention, and compassion.