Even though I live, work and play in The Sunshine State, I see many shades of gray days when seniors are lonely and isolated. The sun can be shining its brightest, but the forecast for these folks always seems a sustained “mostly cloudy.”
One of my referral partners, aPlaceforMom, published the following national statistics a few years ago based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau: “11 million, or 28% of people aged 65 and older, lived alone at the time of the census.”
You can expect these numbers to rise following the upcoming 2020 census, as more and more baby boomers are approaching and/or surpassing the 65-year mark. The likelihood these seniors will end up living alone increases substantially. In fact, AARP reports that many aging adults have never had children, meaning there are fewer family members to provide companionship and care as their journey enters into the Golden Years.
“Social contacts tend to decrease as we age for a variety of reasons, including retirement, the death of friends and family, or lack of mobility. Regardless of the causes of senior isolation, the consequences can be alarming and even harmful. Even perceived social isolation — the feeling that you are lonely — is a struggle for many older people. Fortunately, the past couple of decades have seen increasing research into the risks, causes, and prevention of loneliness in seniors,” the APFM article reported.
Here are 20 facts about senior loneliness and isolation you may not know, in case you have aging loved ones living alone:
- Senior isolation increases the risk of mortality.
- Feelings of loneliness impacts physical and mental health.
- Perceived loneliness can lead to cognitive decline and dementia.
- Social isolation makes seniors more vulnerable to elder abuse.
- LGBT seniors are more likely to be socially isolated.
- Social isolation in seniors is linked to long-term illness.
- Loneliness in seniors is a major risk factor for depression.
- Loneliness causes high blood pressure.
- Socially isolated seniors are more pessimistic about the future.
- Physical and geographic location often leads to social isolation.
- Isolated seniors are more likely to need long-term care.
- Loss of a spouse is a major risk factor for loneliness and isolation.
- Transportation challenges can lead to isolation.
- Caregivers of the elderly are at risk of becoming socially isolated.
- Loneliness can be contagious.
- Lonely people are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors.
- Volunteering can reduce loneliness and social isolation for seniors.
- Feeling lonely? Take a class or start your own social group.
- Technology can help senior isolation…sometimes.
- Physical activity reduces senior isolation.
In addition, there is a financial impact to loneliness, too. “According to AARP, older adults who are isolated are not only at greater risk for death, but they're also associated with an additional $6.7 billion in Medicare spending annually.
"Psychosocial aspects of our lives have tremendous health consequences for us. You know, (impacting) heart disease, Alzheimer’s, (and) diabetes, in all kinds of ways. So it's extremely important to look at (senior loneliness) for all different kinds of reasons," New York Times best-selling author Gretchen Rubin said on a recent CBS This Morning broadcast.
If you recognize anything on the above list, or a scenario seems too familiar, and you are unable to spend time with a senior family member or friend who is lonely and isolated, don’t hesitate to reach out. We can discuss ways a Home Helpers® compassionate caregiver can help your special senior someone by providing companionship, support and encouragement, transportation assistance to appointments and social activities, and so much more.
It’s my pleasure to offer a FREE consultation with you or your elderly loved one, so I can assess specific needs and match the perfect caregiver to help improve their outlook and overall quality of life.
Home Helpers® is honored to have received the Provider of Choice 2017 & 2018 awards from Home Care Pulse, and we proudly serve male and female seniors with Glaucoma in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…Making Life Easier℠
Sources: aPlaceforMom, CBS This Morning