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Life Changing Effects of Reducing Loneliness and Isolation

Too often, older adults deal with loneliness and social isolation. As people age, physical and mental health can decline and prevent people from socializing the way they once were able to. Health isn’t the only factor contributing to the loneliness of older adults. Other factors such as lack of transportation, loss of mobility, and distance from family members also cause seniors to become more withdrawn.

Feelings of loneliness contribute to a significant number of health problems including disrupted sleep, altered immune systems, inflammation, and higher levels of stress. Cognitive decline is accelerated even more in people with diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

The Journal of the American Medical Association released an article in February of 2007 titled “Loneliness and Risk Of Alzheimer Disease” that stated:

“In a cohort of about 800 elderly persons followed up annually for up to 4 years, lonely individuals were more than twice as likely to develop an AD-like dementia syndrome than were those who were not lonely, even after controlling for level of social isolation.”

It is clear that loneliness and social isolation profoundly impact the well-being of senior citizens. A 2013 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences even found that social isolation and loneliness increase risk of mortality.

What Can We Do?

Many community members and organizations are working toward reducing social isolation in their neighborhoods. Even large cities are starting initiatives to help improve the quality of life for senior citizens. For example:

  • Senior centers offer support and resources to senior citizens. They also offer classes, support groups, and meals. These centers give seniors safe places to interact with other people, find leisure and exercise, and help if needed.
  • Some cities incorporate volunteer transportation services and public transportation assistance to help people who have lost mobility get around.
  • Non-profit organizations are popping up, dedicated to helping older adults. The IOA Friendship Line a toll-free crisis hotline that reaches out and offers friendly conversation to seniors that are lonely, depressed, and isolated (800-971-0016).
  • ElderFriends and Friend to Friend America are local organizations in Washington that use volunteers to help older adults find friendship and companions.

 

These are just a few examples of the many services and resources that can help lonely and isolated seniors find a better quality of life. Human connection is essential for all people. Many older citizens have lost meaningful and quality relationships that helped alleviate feelings of loneliness. In the UK, different care homes conducted a nine-month research trial that concluded that just 10 minutes of one-to-one daily chats improved the well-being of people living with dementia. If 10 minutes a day can increase the well-being of seniors, imagine what half an hour might do!

Staying alert and aware in your community and offering conversation and companionship can go a long way. Take some time to reach out to your neighbor or to strike a conversation in the grocery store. Don’t turn away the next older person that says hello. It is up to all of us to help reduce premature death rates due to loneliness…and we can! SYNERGY HomeCare offers a variety of services to keep seniors engaged and provide social interactions.


 

Sources:
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/482179?resultClick=1 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/08/10/how-to-combat-loneliness-and-isolation-as-we-age/#2d75ad2d3025


 

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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