Throughout many of our aging loved ones, there is a silent danger lurking. Although it may not express itself, it can strike at any time. The danger is senior loneliness, and it is a problem that must be addressed.
It is a known fact within the home care community: older adults are more likely to experience loneliness and social isolation. This is attributed to milestones that can come from growing older such as retirement, mobility issues, downsizing, relocation, etc.
Loneliness is not just a sad feeling, it can manifest in adverse health effects in the elderly. If you are a home health aide or caregiver, it is imperative to familiarize yourself with these effects in order to help quell loneliness in seniors.
Social isolation can lead to mental illness in seniors.
If your aging loved one is feeling lonely, they may be more likely to develop a mental illness from that feeling of loneliness. Human beings are social creatures: we need interaction with others to survive. When that interaction subsides, our brain chemistry can be adversely interrupted.
With an imbalance in brain chemistry, a senior’s mental wellbeing is quite literally put at risk. They are more likely to develop depression, insomnia, or anxiety. All of these mental health issues can further imbalance the brain’s chemistry and disrupt equilibrium within the body. Thus, loneliness, although seen as a feeling, can actually manifest in bodily health issues.
Loneliness puts seniors at higher risk of dementia.
Elderly individuals who are socially isolated are more likely to develop dementia. In fact, according to a 2020 study conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, social isolation can lead to a 50% increased chance of dementia.
Senior loneliness is associated with higher risk of stroke and heart failure.
If your loved one is feeling lonely, it may put them at a higher risk of heart failure. The previously aforementioned 2020 study also found that seniors who felt isolated had a 32% chance increase of stroke. It also found a 29% increase of heart disease.
How to help an aging loved one with their loneliness?
If you suspect your loved one is feeling socially isolated, it’s in their best interest to help them! Get them involved with their community, schedule more time together, and enlist the help of a home health aide from Expicare Nursing to provide companionship.