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Aging and the Dangers of Loneliness

There are many physical, emotional, and psychological factors affecting the quality of health in seniors. Aging comes with a variety of physical problems. To alleviate these challenges, seniors often move to nursing homes or have in-home care to help them with their ailments and day-to-day activities. A senior’s mental health can seriously impact their physical well-being and loneliness can play a big part in that.

Seniors often experience feelings of loneliness and depression that have a severe negative impact on their health. The American Psychological Association reported that an estimated 12 million Americans, aged 65 and older, live alone. Unfortunately, the likelihood that many seniors are living without a spouse, significant other, or children is alarming when you consider the fact that this is where most social interaction comes from.

Our number of social connections becomes increasingly smaller as we age. Some reasons for this include:

  • Retirement from the workforce
  • Death of friends & family
  • Lack of physical ability
  • Loss of driving privileges
  • Poor health

When a person’s social interaction becomes limited, loneliness and depression can become overwhelming. Loneliness affects us emotionally, but can also affect us neurologically. Cognitive decline and the risk of developing dementia has been linked to perceived loneliness, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that both social isolation and loneliness are associated with increased mortality. They also report that illnesses and conditions such as chronic lung disease, arthritis, impaired mobility, and depression can be attributed to social isolation. This puts a big spotlight on the importance of identifying and dealing with loneliness early.

We know that depression only worsens social isolation and in turn keeps people from participating in social events, being active, and being of service – all of which can seriously diminish the feelings of loneliness. It’s important for aging adults and the people that care for them to understand how loneliness can affect a person 65 or older, and how to prevent that emotional and physical wear.

Ways To Reduce Effects Of Loneliness

Seniors can immediately begin to feel overall improvement in their emotional state and quality of life by increasing social involvement and there are several ways that can happen.

  1. Volunteering – being of service and being involved in the community are two ways that people can find social interaction. Helping people in hospitals, community care centers, and children’s programs are great ways for older citizens to find appreciation and feel a sense of involvement.
  2. Community Activities – community activities like farmer’s markets, support groups, and sports groups are a great way for seniors to make friends and develop connections. For retired individuals, many towns and cities provide opportunity for seniors to connect with younger people to be mentors and sponsors and find fulfillment.
  3. Senior Neighborhoods – living in a 55 and older neighborhood with other retirees is a great place to meet new people and build connections. Since these neighborhoods only allow a certain age group to move in, there is less stress for seniors who cannot handle a noisy or busy neighborhood.
  4. Companion Home Care - companionship is another option that will improve overall well being. Often companionship is accomplished while participating in the above activities, but venturing out may be too physically demanding. Companion home care can be a great solution in your own home. Stimulating conversation, games, light exercise, even someone to watch TV with can lift spirits and ease loneliness.

There are so many ways that seniors can find fulfillment when they don’t have family or friends nearby. Making friends and developing different connections is a great way decrease loneliness and depression and help improve quality of life and health. Remind yourself to get up, get active, and get out there! Life is happening – you just need to reach out to it. Visit www.synergyhomecare.com to learn more.


Sources: 
http://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/05/numbers.aspx

http://www.pnas.org/content/110/15/5797.full

SYNERGY HomeCare

SYNERGY HomeCare is the premier provider of home care services. We strive to offer our clients the highest quality of life and independence possible. Call us today for a FREE in-home care assessment (877) 432-2692.

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