All over the world, seniors are living in isolation and feeling as though they are completely alone. Loneliness affects the well-being of seniors significantly. Friends, family, and caregivers should be aware of the potential effects of extreme solitude and take steps to protect your loved one from elderly loneliness. Moving seniors into an independent living community, ensuring they have visitors on a regular basis, or bringing them to a variety of events can help reduce feelings of loneliness.
Elderly Loneliness is a Big Problem
Studies conducted at the University of California show that 43% of seniors feel lonely even if they aren’t living alone. With the average life expectancy reaching 85 years old and 45% of Americans over the age of 65 living alone (according to an AARP study), senior citizens have to deal with loneliness for about 20 years.
But just how serious is loneliness? In the same AARP study, it was discovered that individuals over the age of 60 with feelings of loneliness also had a 45% higher risk of death than individuals of the same age who did not report feeling lonely. Seniors who live in isolation experience 59% greater risks for both mental and physical declines than individuals who are not socially isolated.
Loneliness increases depression, alcohol abuse risks, and the potential for overeating along with other mental and social health ailments. In a demographic of people who are already at increased risks for illness, loneliness contributes to their risk level. Even physical consequences can come from feeling lonely, including high blood pressure, arthritis, risks for heart disease, and osteoporosis.
Reasons For Elderly Loneliness
Many life situations contribute to seniors living alone. Their spouses may pass away, or divorce may leave them without their significant other. Adult children may marry or move away from their elderly parents. As people age and their mobility declines, they may reduce their social contact and spend more time at home. Whatever the reason, the result of seniors living in isolation is leading to big problems as seniors are experiencing loneliness.
How Can You Help Your Relatives to Overcome Loneliness?
In addition to spending as much time as you can with your aging relatives, you can improve their quality of life and reduce feelings of loneliness by giving seniors a better life in an independent senior living community or retirement community. These communities are designed with the needs of older Americans in mind – with built-in opportunities for socializing with their peers and regularly scheduled activities; seniors can live an active, social lifestyle within the comfort of their own homes.