Senior isolation is a growing and very dangerous epidemic in the United States. As many as 1/3 of all older adults live alone, and for various reasons (limited mobility, chronic health problems, and loss of friends and relatives, just to name a few) socialization can be extremely difficult to maintain.
The reality is, the results of isolation in older adults have been shown to be as damaging to their health as smoking 15 cigarettes each day, with a higher risk for coronary disease, stroke, and even premature death, according to a report conducted by the National Institute for Health Care Management.
It’s equally important to be familiar with the key differences when considering isolation and loneliness. As the late John T. Cacioppo, Ph.D., former director for the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago details, social isolation is “the objective physical separation from other people (living alone),” whereas loneliness is “the subjective distressed feeling of being alone or separated.” This means that a senior loved one can feel lonely even when surrounded by family and friends, while another may spend a lot of the time alone, yet not feel lonely.
Both loneliness and social isolation are risk factors for health conditions, and enhancing socialization is important. The good news is the fact that aging parents whose lives are more social reap a number of health benefits, particularly in the aspects of:
- Cognition: The companionship of other people provides the means for a release of tension and strengthened mental health, which were proven to positively affect memory and help prevent cognitive decline.
- Emotional Health: The possibility of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem is minimized for those who are socially involved, providing a sense of belonging and better handling of mental health concerns.
- Physical Health: Exercise is important to enhancing physical health in older adults, and those who sustain social bonds are more inclined to stay physically active and engaged.
Not only that, but social seniors have even demonstrated an ability to experience a longer lifespan compared to those who are more isolated.
Absolute Companion Care, the experts in Alzheimer’s care in Towson, MD, is helping the elderly throughout Towson and the surrounding communities to overcome loneliness and isolation, by providing skilled, experienced, friendly, and compassionate caregivers who offer much-needed companionship through:
- Conversations and reminiscing
- Exercise programs
- Arts/crafts or other enjoyable hobbies and interests
- Transportation to fun outings in the neighborhood
- Sharing mealtimes together
- And so much more