The recent health crisis has seen a lot of fall out even for those who remain healthy. Due to the fact that the virus is so contagious and seniors are by far in the highest risk category, many have experienced isolation on a level they never have before. While family and friends are doing their best to keep these loved ones safe, the unintended results of not having regular visitors can take a drastic toll.
If you have loved ones living alone, you may want to be aware of the many ways which isolation can affect them- and take steps to alleviate their feelings of loneliness whenever possible.
Unintended Results of Isolation
- Health complications: Research has shown that isolation can be as harmful as smoking or obesity, and experts report that blood pressure and stress levels are “significantly higher” in lonely seniors.
- Increase in unhealthy habits: According to the American Psychiatric Association, social isolation can result in bad health habits such as smoking, drinking and foregoing any exercise. Support systems encourage seniors to pursue healthier lifestyles.
- Risk of Alzheimer’s disease: Cognitive decline is more prevelant – and rapid – when adults are lonely. This could be from less stimulation, or perhaps because the symptoms of decline are not being witnessed by another party.
- Increased elder abuse: Isolated senior citizens are more vulnerable to scams, frauds, exploitation, or financial and physical abuse. When family or friends are visiting often, they can keep tabs on what is happening. When the senior is alone, they have less chance of being protected.
- Paranoia and worry: Socially isolated adults are 60% more likely tothink that their quality of life is declining, They are also more likely to be worried that they can’t get the help they need as they get older, and are scared of aging in place without the resources they need.
Why Are Seniors Alone?
As indicated, the recent pandemic hascaused many seniors to feel alone and isolated. But even before this event, seniors were increasingly living alone. This was due in large part to societal changes. In most cultures and other time periods, families lived multi-generationally and grandparents stayed in the family home. But this is rare in today’s society. There is also an increase in single senior citizens due to divorce, and many are childless.
41% of seniors believe that they are isolated from society due to transportation concerns. Because many no longer drive, they can be physically prevented from normal daily activities, such as shopping or going to church. Many also feel that public transit is not adequate for their needs.
How to Help
If your senior citizen friend or family member lives on their own, staying in touch is paramount. Bring them lunch, call them on Skype or bring them for a walk around the block several times a week.
You may also wish to speak to your loved one about assisted living options. An assisted living facility can provide the social support and structure a senior needs – providing them with companionship, help with shopping and doctor’s visits, activities and exercise, and a level of interaction which will prevent the adverse effects of isolation. If the senior citizen in your life is looking for an independent lifestyle but with the support system that will give them peace of mind – call A Banyan Residence of Venice today.