Many seniors throughout the U.S. are affected by isolation and loneliness which can have substantial negative health risks. Learn more about what can cause this issue, and how you can remain healthy and connected with others!
Why are Seniors Isolated?
Isolation affects more seniors than you may think. According to 2016 statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, 26% of seniors ages 65+ were living alone. Many seniors also have fewer children that can act as caregivers, leaving nobody to care for them as they age. Isolation can also occur when a senior experiences separation or the death of a spouse, or a diagnosis that affects their physical or cognitive abilities and limits their mobility.
Loneliness vs. Social Isolation
Research shows that the concepts of social isolation and loneliness are distinct yet intricately intertwined. Social isolation is an objective physical separation from other people, whereas loneliness is a subjective and distressed feeling of being alone. For example, a senior could experience social isolation if they’re living alone but they could feel lonely even if they’re surrounded by people.
Experiencing loneliness can even biologically rewire the way your brain operates, affecting how you interact with and perceive the world. Someone who has lost a sense of community and connection will eventually begin to feel threatened and mistrustful of others. This may affect a senior’s already existing relationships and how they interact with others.
Social isolation and loneliness are health risks to the elderly. Studies show that a lack of social relationships can be as strong of a risk factor for mortality as smoking, obesity, or lack of physical activity! Human beings are meant to be social creatures. This is why isolation and loneliness can lead to a shockingly long list of health risks including:
- Cognitive decline
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
- Alzheimer’s disease
The unexpected death of a partner, separation from friends or family, retirement, loss of mobility, or a lack of transportation can expose seniors to social isolation and increase their risk of developing chronic loneliness and the above health risks.
Research is showing that those who choose to participate in meaningful and productive activities with others discover a sense of purpose, improve their mental health, and even live longer.
These activities can be a hobby, volunteering, participating in or watching sports, attending religious services, or working for a social cause, and many more! Developing relationships with others who share similar values can help to maintain your well-being, improve your cognitive function, and find a supportive community full of lifelong friends!
Our friendly staff are here to support your needs and help your loved ones thrive in their golden years. At The Canopy (link to www.canopyliving.com), our care facilities are designed to provide as many great experiences as possible. Give our staff a call today at (386) 515-7215 or visit us online and check out the wide range of activities our locations have to offer.