Being alone can affect a senior’s health in many ways. If a senior is isolated socially as well as being alone, the effect on mortality can be doubled per age group also. One reason may be that people who live alone or don’t have much social contact have no one to turn to if acute health symptoms develop. No one would know then that isolated seniors were sick or unable to care for themselves.
Illnesses linked to loneliness and isolation
Loneliness is one of the major factors which can cause depression in seniors. It can also cause high blood pressure by increasing the systolic pressure as well as being linked to long term illnesses too. Other illnesses which can be linked can range from arthritis, chronic lung disease and impaired mobility as well as depression as stated. In addition, social isolation may be a major predictor for the senior needing long-term care sooner. Here, the senior may not be taking care of medical issues and unhealthy behavior. This can result in risky health behaviors such as lack of exercise and poor diet.
Other contributing factors
There are also other contributing factors to loneliness and social isolation. When a senior loses a spouse, the person can lose the social circle which were part of being a couple. Friends who were part of that circle may stop calling, or stopping by, and therefore lose touch with the bereaved senior. Too, where a senior lives can cause isolation issues. If the senior can no longer drive and public transportation isn’t available, then the senior can no longer go to places of social interaction additionally.
Ways a senior can prevent loneliness and isolation
Some suggestions for seniors to become more socially involved to prevent loneliness and social isolation are listed below:
- Seniors can become more social-media savvy. By using email, Facebook and other medias; they can keep in contact with friends and family. The social media also can help the senior keep active through sites which interest them such as music and hobby sites.
- Join a senior center where there are like-minded people. There are exercise programs, craft programs and other activities to make new friends and enjoy social interaction with this.
- Find activities where transportation is provided such as by bus trips that will go to senior events and outdoor venues. Trips to parks, movies, day trips and other fun things to do that will help to curb loneliness and give a chance to make new acquaintances may be able to be done by the help of groups and programs available for seniors that will drive seniors too.
- Join a place of worship, or volunteer at a hospital or even a pet shelter. Volunteers are needed at all these places to continue to keep the programs that are in place viable. It will give the senior a purpose that is useful and much needed additionally.
By following the suggestions above, the impact of loneliness and social isolation on senior health can be alleviated.