10 Important Things to Know About Seniors living in isolation
Seniors who are living in isolation can travel down a dangerous path. Here are 10 things you need to know about the risks for senior isolation
Twelve million Americans over the age of 65 now live alone. While living alone does not necessarily lead to loneliness, these factors are often related.
Living in isolation can be a concern in itself for seniors and their relatives. But, feelings ofdisconnection from others is also linked to serious health problems and higher mortality rates.
As such, many healthcare professionals recommend that loneliness shouldbe diagnosed and treated as any other chronic and harmful condition.
Here we reveal ten facts about the risks of senior isolation and why it’s important to address this worrying issue.
1.Increased Mortality Risk
Both social isolation and loneliness are linked to a higher risk of mortality in men and women aged 52 and over.
It is thought that seniors without family or friends, or those who live alone, may have an increased risk of death due to reduced prompts for medical attention.In contrast, older people with a strong network of contacts have more chance of being urged, or even taken, to see a doctor ifsymptoms develop.
Further research shows that loneliness increases the likeliness of mortality in seniors by 26 percent. The same study found that social isolation increases mortality risk by 29 percent, and living alone by 32 percent.
This shows the importance of help for seniors living alone, whereby regular contact could decrease their mortality risk significantly.
2.Association withLong-Term Illness
As well as an increased mortality risk, conditions such as arthritis, chronic lung disease and impaired mobility are linked to social isolation in seniors.
Also, depression in the elderly facts show that feeling lonely or isolated is associated with more depressive symptoms.
One solution could bemoving to an assisted living facility or nursing home.Of course, seniors may still experience loneliness in nursing homes. But,theywould get the help they need, and there is more chance that they would find thecompanionship they desire.
3. Decline inPhysical and Mental Health
Even everyday illnesses such as the common cold are negatively affected by loneliness. Seniors who felt isolated reported cold symptoms that were38.5 percentmore severe than those who were less lonely.
Regular visits and phone calls, connecting seniors with social resources, or getting them help from ahome care agencycan all help reduce this isolationand improve their health.
4. Increased Pessimism
Isolated seniors are more likely to predict that their quality of life will worsen over the next five to 10 years, and express more concerns about aging.
They’realso more concerned about needing help from community-based programs. But, it is these community programs whichcan provideseniors with the social supportand help theyneed as they get older.
As such, it’s important to encourage your elderly relatives to make the most of community programs, or provide home help for them. Not only will these services improve their quality of life, they will also improvehowseniors view their future.
5.More Vulnerableto Elder Abuse
According to research by the National Center on Elder Abuse, socially isolated seniors experience higher rates of elder abuse.
It is unclear whetherabuserstarget isolated seniors to minimize the potential for discovery, or if isolated seniors are more likely to fall victim to abuse.
Either way, it is importantfor seniors to speak up if they suspect possible elder abuse. And, relatives and carers shouldensure that seniors are aware of the potential for elder abuse.
6. Loneliness Linked to Dementia
Researchers in this fieldexplain that, as a social species, we need social support and communication to function. When our lifestyle doesn’t meet that need, it can have damaging physical and neurological effects.
As such,help for seniors living alone is crucial,not only to provide assistance, but also to offer mental stimulation.
7. LGBT SeniorsMore Isolated
LGBT seniors are twice as likely to live alone. This is because they are less likely to have children, more likely to be single, and also more likely to be estranged from their families.
Luckily, there are now more resources and groups, such as SAGE USA, dedicated to helping these at-risk elders avoid isolation.
8. Some Technology Can Help
Modern technology may provide us with more opportunities to keep in touch, but we feel more alone than ever. While elderly relatives will appreciate phone calls, messages and video chats, these don’t replace the need for human contact.
The key is to find technological interventions that can really help reduce old people loneliness.
For example, providing a hearing aid for a senior with hearing loss willhelp facilitate communication and social interaction.Whilefinding informationonline aboutgroups and gatherings in their local area will help them stay connected.
9.Unhealthy Behaviors are More Likely
Socially isolated older adults are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, poor diet and physical inactivity.
Seniors with more social support not only benefited from reduced loneliness, but they were also more likely to exercise and eat well. As such, home help or living in a community can help seniors combat feelings of isolation while promoting wellness through diet and exercise.
10. Less Financially Comfortable
Older people living alone are16 percent less likely to be financially comfortable than those living with others. Also,seniors living alone report that they do not have enough money to meet basic expenses, compared to 5 percent of those who live with others.
As a result, financial restrictions canlead to increased social isolation. Seniors living alonemay not be able to afford the travel costs or other fees associated with maintaining an active social life.
Seniors Living in Isolation
As these facts show, there are many risk factors associated with seniors living in isolation.
But, senior isolationis not an inevitable part of aging, andnor is it irreversible. Through increased awareness of the problems facing seniors, we can help our loved ones create and maintain social support networks as a way to combat senior loneliness and the health issues it can cause.
For more information about home help and other ways tocare for your elderly relatives,contact ustoday.