Loneliness and Isolation Can Affect Senior Health

For seniors, maintaining social connections and staying in touch with loved ones not only improves quality of life, it improves health. Socially isolated seniors have a 59% greater risk of mental and physical decline than those who do not experience social isolation, and socialization has been shown to slow Alzheimer’s and Dementia patient’s decline.

According to Statistic Canada, 5 million people (25% of the population) who are aged 65 and older, now live alone and over 40% of women over 80 live alone. By taking intentional steps to reduce isolation and reduce lack of contact, overall wellbeing is also improved.

So, how can seniors foster connection and reduce loneliness?

  • Social Media – Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites can help seniors stay connected to friends and family across the country. And, many social media platforms have built in chat functions, games and other features that foster connection.
  • Togetherness Activities – For older adults, planning activities reduces lack of contact. This can be in-person, when possible, or through video chat and phone calls. Virtual or in-person activities can include good conversation, cooking and eating together, reading together, playing games, scrapbooking, or listening to music. And, studies show that planning and looking forward to an event can have mental health benefits too!
  • Online Interaction – Seniors may enjoy virtual meetups, online worship services, Facebook trivia night, virtual communities focused on hobbies, and other online activities can help people connect to others in their community without leaving home. For those that are able to go out, sharing hobbies and activities with others can bring joy and connection.
  • Virtual Volunteers – For seniors looking for a sense of purpose, there are opportunities to volunteer to help others from the comfort of home. This can include building Easter baskets for children’s charities, sewing quilts for shelters, writing cards for military service members oversees and other activities that allow people to do good works in their free time.

The health effects of social isolation and loneliness on seniors is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

Isolation and loneliness can be signs that a senior lacks the support and tools needed to live a healthy, independent life. However, with planning and deliberate action, fostering positive relationships and connections can be incredibly rewarding for everyone involved.

Comfort Keepers® Can Help

For seniors that need companionship or help fighting loneliness, Comfort Keepers caregivers can help with encouragement, support and assistance with daily living. And, caregivers can encourage overall health through meal planning, grocery shopping, meal preparation and activities. Our custom care plans focus on physical and mental health and wellness activities. Our goal is to see that clients have the means to find the joy and happiness in each day, regardless of age or acuity.

To learn more about our in-home care services, contact your local Comfort Keepers location today.

 

References:
Statistics Canada.  “Living Arrangements of Seniors”. Web.  2018.
Forbes. “Technology can help the lonely elderly endure social distancing” Web. 2020.
Journal of Aging Research. “use of Physical and Intellectual Activities and Socialization in the Management of Cognitive Decline of Aging and in Dementia”. Web. 2012.
Psychology Today. “How to Help Older Adults Fight Loneliness During COVID-19”. Web. 2020.
Caring.com. “Senior Loneliness: The Risks of Loneliness and Senior Neglect” by Melanie Haiken. Web. 2015
Forbes. “Are Social Determinants the Missing Key to Improving Health?” Web. 2018

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