Lonely seniors are a growing and very serious epidemic in the United States. As many as a third of all elderly persons live alone, and for various reasons (limited mobility, chronic health conditions, and loss of friends and family, just to identify a few) socialization turns out to be extremely difficult to maintain.
The reality is, the negative impacts of isolation in seniors have been shown to be as detrimental for their health as smoking 15 cigarettes each day, with an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and even premature death, according to a report released by the National Institute for Health Care Management.
It’s important to be aware of 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 explains, social isolation is “the objective physical separation from other people (living alone),” whereas loneliness is “the subjective distressed feeling of being alone or separated.” Therefore, an older adult can feel lonely even if surrounded by family and friends, while another may spend a lot of time alone, but not feel lonely.
Both loneliness and social isolation are risk factors for health conditions, and intervention to increase socialization is vital. The good news is that seniors whose lives are more social reap a great many overall health benefits, including in the areas of:
- Cognition: The companionship of other individuals provides the opportunity for a release of stress and enhanced mental health, which have been proven to positively impact memory and help prevent cognitive decline.
- Emotional Health: The chance of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem is decreased for people who are socially connected, offering 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 maintain social bonds have a propensity to stay physically active and engaged.
Not only that, but social seniors have even demonstrated to possess an extended lifespan compared to those who are more isolated.
At Inspired Home Care, we are assisting seniors all through the Chicago area 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 as well as other enjoyable hobbies and interests
- Transportation to fun outings in the community
- Sharing mealtimes together
- And so much more
Help an older adult you love discover a much more socially-enriched lifestyle! Reach out to us at 847-787-7572 for a free in-home consultation and for more information about our home and dementia care in Chicago, IL and the surrounding communities.