Senior isolation is an increasing and intensely serious epidemic across the nation. Nearly 33% of all older adults live alone, and for a variety of reasons (limited mobility, chronic health issues, and loss of family and friends, just to name a few) socialization ends up being very challenging to maintain.
The truth is, the effects of isolation in older adults have been demonstrated to be as dangerous to their health as smoking 15 cigarettes daily, with an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and even premature death, according to a study carried out by the National Institute for Health Care Management.
It’s also important to recognize the key differences when considering isolation and loneliness. As the late John T. Cacioppo, Ph.D., former director of 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.” This is why an older adult can feel lonely even surrounded by family and friends, whereas another may spend a lot of the time alone, but not feel lonely.
Both loneliness and social isolation are risk factors for health issues, and enhancing socialization is crucial. The good news is that older adults whose lives are more social reap numerous overall health benefits, including in the areas of:
- Cognition: The companionship of other individuals provides the means for a release of tension and enhanced mental health, which have been proven to positively affect memory and help prevent cognitive decline.
- Emotional Health: The risk of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem is lowered for those who are socially connected, offering a sense of belonging and better management of mental health concerns.
- Physical Health: Exercise is critical to improving physical health in older adults, and those who sustain social bonds are more inclined to stay physically active and engaged.
Not only that, but one of the benefits of socialization in the elderly is the potential for a prolonged lifespan as opposed to those who are more isolated.
Compassionate Nursing Services, experts in memory care St. Louis families trust, helps older adults conquer loneliness and isolation, by providing trained, knowledgeable, friendly, and compassionate caregivers who offer much-needed companionship through:
- Conversations and reminiscing
- Exercise programs
- Arts/crafts and other enjoyable hobbies and interests
- Transportation to fun outings locally
- Sharing mealtimes together
- And much more
Help an older adult you love experience an even more socially-enriched lifestyle! Reach out to us at 314-432-4312 for a free in-home consultation to find out more about our customized home care services in O’Fallon and the surrounding communities.