What is Senior Isolation and How We Can Help?
“Senior isolation” is a blanket term meaning feelings of loneliness, depression and isolation commonly found among the elderly. While these issues may seem less concerning than illness, the truth is that they lead to serious health and quality of life problems. Here are some insights from our in-home respite care team:
Senior Isolation is On the Rise
Although the USA has a growing elderly population, that doesn’t mean seniors are feeling less isolated — in fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 28% of seniors lived alone at the time of the study. This lack of in-home support from a spouse or loved one is further exacerbated by demographics: fewer adults have children, so there are less people available to assist with companionship and care.
Risks to Health and Lifespan
The sad reality is that loneliness, even perceived loneliness, damages our health and wellbeing. It’s associated with a higher risk of mortality in people over age 52, and increases the risks of poor physical and mental health. Social isolation can affect cognitive abilities, too, leading to poor cognitive performance, increased cognitive decline and higher risk of dementia.
Long-term illnesses strongly associated with social isolation include arthritis, chronic lung disease, high blood pressure, depression, and mobility problems. Many seniors who experience social isolation often recover from illness and surgery much slower and don’t regain the same strength and mobility as those with healthy social connections.
Therefore, these seniors often require more intensive care and may require it at an earlier stage in their lifetimes, too.
How Can We Help Fight Social Isolation?
There are many ways that we can all help keep seniors more socially connected and cared for. Here are some effective strategies for helping family members, loved ones and the elderly in your community:
- Living situation. If your loved one lives far away or by themselves, they are at risk of senior isolation. Moving into a vibrant assisted living community, a home closer to friends and family (or a senior-friendly town), or investing in senior independent home care can help ensure their access to companionship and social connections.
- Pets. Beside wonderful sources of companionship, pets give your loved one a sense of purpose and plenty of love. Your local animal shelter may be able to provide an equally-lonely and gentle cat or dog; some assisted living facilities even allow animals.
- Transport. If your loved one can no longer drive, then lack of transport may be holding them back from an otherwise active life. Look in your local directory for transport services for the elderly, volunteer your own time, or speak to home healthcare professionals about providing a transport service for your loved one.
Companionship, Medical Care and More from NJ In-Home Respite Care Specialists
United Methodist Communities strives to offer the very best quality senior independent home care options, from assisted living to in-home care through HomeWorks. This program assists the elderly in the comfort of their own homes and provides them, their families and caregivers personalized, compassionate care that prioritizes health, happiness and independence. In addition to medical and daily home care, we also offer pastoral care for spiritual and emotional support in the home.
For more information on our senior home care services and in-home respite care, please contact us today or visit our website at https://homeworks.umcommunities.org/home-respite-care-services-nj/