Ensuring the best living situation for the seniors closest to us is a high priority in a lot of people’s lives. But because we so often get caught up with meeting physical care demands with seniors, we often neglect social and mental health needs. A recurring byproduct of that negligence is the feeling of loneliness.
Causes of Loneliness
There are a variety of factors that contribute to loneliness in seniors. One of the most common is the loss of a spouse. Losing a spouse often leaves the widower living alone and that leads to much of the time spent in isolation. Disabilities and health problems can also make it difficult to maintain social relationships and interactions in and out of the home. Sensory impairments such as hearing or vision loss can also play a role in generating feelings of loneliness.
Aside from the more common causes, there is a plethora of unique and singular reasons for loneliness. Just like dealing with any sort of emotional dilemma, there is not always a clear and defined source of the difficulties. Having the ability to locate the basis for your loved one’s negative feelings can make all the difference.
Effects of Loneliness
If a senior’s loneliness goes unnoticed and remains unattended, it can lead to numerous other complications. Below are a few of the major risks of ongoing loneliness in seniors:
- Long-term Illness
In a 2012 study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), it was discovered that conditions such as lung disease, arthritis, weakened mobility, high blood pressure and depression are associated with social isolation.
- Cognitive Deterioration
A Dutch study that appears in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry states that that those who suffer from loneliness have a 64 percent greater risk of dementia. The authors also stressed that the risk depends on having feelings of loneliness, not purely the fact that someone lives alone or is socially isolated.
- Unhealthy Behavior
A study using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) found that individuals who are lonely or socially isolated are much more likely to display risky health behaviors such as poor diet and lack of physical activity.
Coping with Loneliness
Knowing how common loneliness is and how impactful it can be on people’s lives, developing strategies and putting a plan into action is greatly beneficial. Here are a few ideas of how to do that:
- Make Friends
Helping your loved one find new friends can make an incredible difference. Initially, you may just see the enjoyment of companionship through a casual acquaintance, but over time those relationships can develop into close friendships.
Volunteering a person’s time and talents can often bring to light the positives along with the things they can be thankful for.
- Take Up a New Hobby
Hobbies help keep people motivated and forward-thinking. Hobbies allow for goal setting, and can be a great daily activity for those who may have challenged mobility. FBN
By Jordan Fox
Visiting Angels of Flagstaff is the leader in dementia and Alzheimer’s specialized care, serving Flagstaff, Williams, Winslow, Payson and Show Low. For more information regarding home care and living assistance services, visit our website visitingangels.com/flagstaff.
You can also contact the director of the Flagstaff Office, Jordan Fox, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 928-220-4100. The office is located at 718 N. Humphreys St. Ste 201, Flagstaff, AZ 86001.