Loneliness and social isolation in seniors can increase the risk of adverse health outcomes, including dementia and other serious health issues. These issues are a significant public health concern in the U.S., affecting a large portion of the senior population. Fortunately, moving to a retirement community can help overcome this problem.
A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine highlights that almost one-fourth of those aged 65 and older are socially isolated. Several factors can contribute to loneliness and social isolation in seniors. These include living alone, the loss of loved ones, chronic illness, and hearing loss.
What is Social Isolation in Seniors?
Social isolation in seniors refers to a person’s lack of social connections or contact with others. It can happen if you have few or no close relationships with others or lack social contact with your community.
Seniors’ social isolation, whether involuntary or voluntary, can adversely affect their mental and physical health. Retirement, decreased mobility, and losing loved ones may make seniors more vulnerable to social isolation. To maintain their physical and mental health, seniors must maintain social connections and participate in activities that promote socialization.
What is Loneliness in Seniors?
Loneliness in seniors is a subjective feeling of lacking social connections or being alone. It differs from social isolation, which refers to a lack of social contact or links. Seniors may feel lonely even if surrounded by people if they do not feel a sense of belonging or have close relationships.
This problem can have severe consequences for your physical and mental health. So, you need to maintain social connections and engage in activities that promote socialization to prevent loneliness.
How Bad Are These Problems in Seniors?
Seniors’ physical and mental health can suffer due to social isolation and loneliness. Experts link loneliness and social isolation to various adverse health outcomes, including:
- An increased risk of premature death compared to the risk associated with smoking 15 cigarettes per day
- An increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart attack
- An increased risk of developing depression, a common mental disorder in seniors
- An increased risk of cognitive declines, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- A decrease in physical function, such as agility and mobility, in seniors
Overall, seniors should maintain social connections and participate in socialization activities to maintain their physical and mental health. That is where retirement communities can come in handy.
It is essential to recognize that each individual has the right to make decisions about their relationships and lifestyle. It is worth noting that loneliness and social isolation are two distinct aspects of social connections, and both can have negative impacts on your health.
At our retirement community, we understand it can be challenging to maintain social connections due to health issues or a lack of proximity to loved ones. To address this, we offer activities and events that promote socialization and provide our residents with enjoyable, welcoming environments to interact with others. Please feel free to learn more about how we support residents in enhancing their social wellness.