In the United States, loneliness or social isolation among older persons are major public health concerns that put them at risk for dementia and other medical diseases. Loneliness is the experience of being alone, regardless of the level of social contact. A lack of social relationships is known as social isolation. Some people can get lonely as a result of social isolation, whereas others can become lonely even when they are not socially isolated.
The Effects of Loneliness on an Older Person’s Health:
There is strong evidence that many older persons are socially isolated or lonely in ways that affect their health, even though it can be challenging to evaluate these factors properly. In recent research, scientist has found that;
- A person’s chance of premature death from any cause increased significantly when they were socially Isolated, and this risk may be comparable to that of smoking, being overweight, and not exercising.
- An increased risk of dementia of nearly 60% was associated with social isolation or loneliness.
- Heart disease risk increased by 30% and stroke risk increased by 35% in people with poor social connections which are characterized by social isolation or loneliness.
- Higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide have all been linked to loneliness.
- Heart failure patients who reported feeling lonely had a roughly 4-fold higher chance of dying, a 70% higher risk of being hospitalized, and a 60% higher risk of using the emergency room.
The following are some of the more significant negative health effects of loneliness and social isolation in senior people:
- Physical disorders are more likely to develop; A recent study found that loneliness can increase your body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol. Your immune system can be weakened by cortisol, which can also affect your cognitive function. It can also increase your risk of vascular issues, inflammation, and heart disease.
- Unhealthy routines might develop; lonely people typically exercise less and pay less attention to their diet, choosing to snack or eat “feel-good” meals rather than foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein. People who eat alone frequently overeat more quickly which can affect their body mass index, waistline, blood pressure, and blood lipid levels. As a result, the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health issues increases in older people.
- There is a higher chance of dementia; Our brains benefit from regular social interaction and mental stimulation. Without sufficient social engagement, our minds tend to deteriorate over time, which affects our memory and cognitive ability. We are more likely to get dementia or Alzheimer’s disease as a result of this situation, both of which have no known treatments.
- Our social network may become limited; Life changes tend to occur more frequently as we become older. Our spouses, neighbors, and friends may pass away. We may retire from our occupations, our children may grow up and move away, and so on. The connections we formerly relied on deteriorate gradually, leaving us with fewer people to talk to. If we don’t engage in volunteer work or other social activities, we risk experiencing excessive loneliness and the negative impact it has on our health.
- Being alone is emotionally stressful; It might cause an overwhelming sense of sadness when you want to spend time with other people but are unable to. Humans are social beings who depend on social connections to uphold feelings of self-worth and belonging. Without social interaction, we run the danger of experiencing low self-esteem, depression, and hopelessness.
- Financial stability may be affected; Many senior citizens who don’t participate in regular social activities may be taken advantage of by friendly strangers on the phone or online. Older adults have been the target of financial crime for years since lonely people tend to be thankful for human contact and hesitate to stop phone calls or internet conversations.
- Existing health problems can become worse; Elderly people who suffer from long-term illnesses like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease frequently isolate themselves from others and find themselves living alone. The general negative impacts of loneliness may enhance these already-existing diseases. Lack of transportation is a significant factor that might cause social isolation in older persons. Even if the individual wishes to interact with others, a visual impairment, memory loss, arthritis, or other conditions may force them to give up their car keys. They can quickly become isolated if they reside far from a big city and have no access to a reliable transit system.
Lenity Management community offers high-quality in-home senior care services
We truly believe everyone has the right to live at home, especially as they age, Lenity Management community can assist when an elderly loved one experiences loneliness as a result of a lack of social interaction. Our team of caregivers will keep your loved one happy and active with enjoyable activities, light exercise, and casual companionship to help them have a wonderful day, each day.
We can assist with homemaking and meal preparation, personal care, and other crucial services that will improve the well-being of the senior citizens in your life, bring happiness and sunshine into their homes every day, and preserve their freedom.