The number of people we socialize with tends to decline as we age due to retirement, lack of mobility and death of family and friends. Some older adults do not have children, and that means there may not be anyone to offer companionship and assistance as we progress through the years. This makes it easy for isolation and loneliness to set in among seniors.
Senior isolation is not just a bad emotional feeling; it can have negative consequences to your health and contribute to an early death as well. Many seniors seek assisted living because it can offer both the care and social contact that are important to maintaining good mental and physical health. Here are some of the risk factors and consequences of senior isolation and loneliness.
Losing a spouse is unfortunately quite common as we get older. Numerous studies have shown widowhood increases the likelihood seniors will experience social and emotional isolation. In addition to the loneliness from bereavement, losing a spouse also means losing couples-related social interactions. If there isn’t any other family in the picture and no close friends, an assisted living center can help fill the need for social support after the death of a spouse.
At some point, many senior citizens are forced to stop driving due to a decline in their mental or physical health that makes it unsafe to be on the road. The AARP says life expectancy exceeds the age for safe driving expectancy. Men can expect to live about six years past the safe driving expectancy age, while women can expect to live about 10 years past this point. However, many seniors do not feel there is adequate transportation support in their communities. Senior transportation services and public transportation are essential to helping seniors get out of the house and involved in social activities.
Family members who care for their senior relatives are also at risk for depression, isolation and loneliness. Often times caregivers feel such a responsibility to their loved ones they stop making time for their own social needs and activities. If the demands of caregiving become more than you can handle, temporary respite care is an option. For a more permanent solution, there are many affordable assisted living facilities ready to welcome and care for your loved one. Then you can seek support and get reconnected to others socially.
It may seem like an odd phenomenon, but when one person feels lonely, the emotion can spread to friends or relatives. Adding insult to injury is the fact people tend to isolate others who they perceive to be lonely because they want to avoid the negativity.
People who are lonely or socially isolated are more likely to engage in risky health behaviors, including smoking, not exercising and eating poorly. An assisted living community helps to promote wellness and encourages participation in diet and exercise programs.
If you would like to know more about assisted living, contact us. Our assisted living center offers many services and activities to help residents maintain an active social life.