Loneliness and Isolation
We are social beings, so living alone and not having access to socialization will take a toll on most people at any age. However, due to a variety of factors loneliness and social withdrawal are a significant issue for many seniors today. Many seniors with cognitive impairments become afraid to interact, embarrassed about their behavior, or self conscious so they withdrawal from others. Sometimes other seniors have medical issues that lead to fatigue or make it difficult to venture out easily. Or spouses are so busy handling the care of a loved one that they do not have support or assistance to socialize and care for themselves. While others just sadly lack support and guidance to have adequate socialization. According to the U.S. Census Bureau approximately 11 million seniors, aged 65 or older live alone. In addition, according to AARP more senior adults do not have children so there is no one there to provide additional companionship, support, or socialization opportunities.
Living alone and having a lack of socialization can lead to two key issues:
1. Negatively impacted emotional health (increasing the risk of depression, anger, cognitive issues and dementia development)
2. Injury and chronic illness as people who are isolated and lack socialization and support often times take risks that result in injuries, have poor health or eating habits, or do not access preventative care which results in the development of more serious problems. As a result more isolated seniors require higher level services and long term care earlier.
So how can isolation be prevented?
If you or someone else suffers from loneliness or isolation recommend or try some the the ideas below:
1. Contact your local senior center to try out some of their programs!
2. Look into programs at the local community center! Take a class or attend a program!
3. Volunteer in an area that you have interest!!!
4. If you have mild cognitive problems and feel afraid to venture out try a memory cafe or some of the day programs for those with mild impairments!
5. Get online! Get a computer or cellphone and link to friends and areas of interest via senior blogs or social media such as facebook!
6. If transportation is an issue contact your local area on aging or use a service such as https://gogograndparent.com/
7. If unsure of what direction to take contact a Geriatric Care Manager or Care advisor for assistance! They will help to get you on track!