The effects of senior loneliness and the part social interactions play in improving health.
You can’t help getting older, But you don’t have to get old”
One of the great comedians of all time made this statement light-heartedly, but in truth, “getting older” is much more than age.
Many seniors today are lonely. Loneliness is much more than being alone from time to time. When someone is lonely, they may be surrounded by people and still feel isolated.
Some have contributed to what is considered a “Loneliness Epidemic.” Families and friends separated by career opportunities across the country and seniors moving to warmer climates can weaken the support system as loved one’s age. This can often force a caregiving role onto a spouse, which, over time, can cause isolation. Losing a spouse can be devastating for anyone, especially seniors who may have been together for many years.
Chronic loneliness among our aging population can take a tragic toll on the mental and physical health of the senior population. There is a pretty shocking financial hit as well. A 2018 study by AARP on loneliness calculated that Medicare spends approximately $134 more for every lonely senior than for a socially connected adult. That adds up to $6.7 billion in spending each year. So America has a strong incentive to address the problems of loneliness and isolation through research and resources to slow these crises.
How Senior Living Communities can help
The reasons an aging senior chooses to move to a community are as vast as the cookie selection at the grocery store. Some do not “choose” as much as they are “urged” by loved ones to make the move. Whatever the reason, results from the AARP study reveal that overall changes in mental wellness improve for seniors who have experienced loneliness and/or depression. Social interaction, activities, and a well-balanced diet have all been shown to increase dopamine levels which can help to combat depression.
Seniors who are busy, active, and around other people do not have as many doctor visits. This is not to say they neglect their health but do not find as many reasons to visit the doctor. As a matter of fact, active seniors have a lower risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
If you know a senior who shows signs of loneliness or isolation, try to help. Small steps can lead to bringing a friend or neighbor back to life. The following suggestions are easy ways to start.
- Visit often and interact. Offer to shop for them or take them shopping.
- Play cards or take them to bingo.
- Maybe volunteering would interest them. Check into places they could do good things.
- Ask them to visit your place of worship. People are very good at recruiting newcomers for duties that will get them involved.
- Help them with social media. They may not have seen their grandkids in a while.
- Go for a walk in the neighborhood. They could potentially meet a new friend.
- Sometimes a pet is just what the doctor ordered. Maybe start with a pet visiting organization or volunteering at a shelter.
- Keep the ears in check. Hearing concerns are often a way for seniors to opt out of conversations.
- Make sure they can get to and from places. Help them organize local, trustworthy transportation.
- Ask them about their life. See if they need or want help. Sometimes they just need an ear.
Recognizing the problem is the first step. The solution can look different for each individual, but there is help available. If a Senior Living Community is an option, reach out to the professionals at The Cove at Tavares Village. We will be happy to speak with you about making the transition as simple as possible.