The Dangers of Loneliness for Older Adults
Is loneliness impacting your health and quality of life?
According to the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) website, whereyoulivematters.org, shrinking social circles, poor health, life changes, and even transportation challenges contribute to isolation for older adults.
The article warns that isolation can contribute to loneliness, which impacts health and quality of life.
New research by AgeUK indicates that loneliness in seniors has reached epidemic proportions. The research found that 225,000 seniors in Britain didn’t talk to a single person in a week and 2.6 million said they spoke with only three non-strangers.
The health risks of loneliness.
ASHA explains that the emotional state of being lonely can have devastating physical consequences, including:
- Loneliness can cause high blood pressure, increase the risk of depression and cause higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- People with few social connections or who feel lonely have a 29% higher risk of heart disease and a 32% higher risk of stroke.
- The lack of social relationships is as much a risk factor for severe health issues as smoking or obesity.
If you’re unsure whether what you’re feeling is normal, there are ways to check.
Take an isolation assessment.
Take some time to think about factors that may contribute to your loneliness. Start by taking an Isolation Assessment from Connect2Affect, a project developed by the AARP Foundation. It helps identify key risk factors, as well as suggest ways to increase connectivity.
Easy steps to stay connected.
- Schedule face-to-face time – Invite friends or family members over to watch a movie, enjoy conversation and iced tea on the patio, or to help you with a project. Phone calls, emails, Skype and FaceTime are also great ways to stay connected.
- Group Activities – An Australian study found that for every group involvement lost a year after retirement, quality of life was reduced by 10 percent. Consider attending group fitness classes, lectures, musical performances, community events, or joining local walking, gardening, wine tasting or book clubs.
- Senior Living Communities – Residents of senior living communities say that being able to meet and interact with people has made their lives incredibly rich. Between events, activities, clubs, dining venues, and having neighbors their same age, they discover new friends that feel like family.
Cascades of Tucson helps make connections.
Dave, the son of a memory care resident, noticed a positive change in his father’s behavior after moving into memory care at Cascades of Tucson:
“My dad was kind of a hermit for the past decade or so and now he goes to the water class on Saturdays, and he likes going to the chair Zumba classes on Fridays. He loves it…and I know he is at home. In fact, I know he is more than at home. It’s him not being isolated anymore.” Watch the video.
Maintaining contact with family, friends, and the world at large is important no matter your age! If you are concerned about a family member or feel isolated yourself, don’t wait until it gets overwhelming. Reach out now! Human kindness and companionship are central to our happiness throughout our lives.
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