Although loneliness can affect people of all ages, it’s a growing concern within the elderly population. Chronic loneliness is defined as the feeling of being isolated and disconnected from others over a long period of time. As seniors age, they’re at a higher risk than most to experience chronic loneliness due to factors such as the loss of friends and loved ones or physical limitations. In this article, we will explore the effects of chronic loneliness in the elderly and provide some strategies to help yourself or someone else who may feel lonely.
Chronic loneliness in the elderly can have serious physical and mental health consequences. The following are just a few to be aware of:
High blood pressure, heart disease, and a weakened immune system are just a couple of physical health conditions that research has linked to chronic loneliness.
Chronic loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins found that the risk of developing dementia is over 27% higher among socially isolated older adults compared with older adults who were not socially isolated.
Evidence suggests that this isolation and subsequent feelings of loneliness are associated with an increased risk of developing depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
If you or someone you know is experiencing chronic loneliness, there are steps you can take to help.
One of the most important things you can do to combat chronic loneliness is to connect with others. This can be done by joining social groups or clubs, volunteering, or simply reaching out to friends and family members.
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Engaging in activities that bring joy and purpose to your life can help combat feelings of loneliness. This can apply to hobbies, exercise, or creative pursuits.
Pets can provide companionship, comfort, and emotional support. Pets often become part of the family. Think about it: you’re never alone when your best friend lives with you!
Technology can be a useful tool for combating loneliness. Social media, internet forums, and video conversations with family and friends are fantastic examples of this.
Taking care of your physical health can help! Aside from making your body feel great, taking a class can help you meet new people and stay connected. Consider a program like SilverSneakers, which is a safe, fun program that provides a wide variety of options for exercise, specially designed for seniors.
Religious and volunteer organizations are just a couple of groups that can provide opportunities for the elderly to connect with others, engage in activities, and find a sense of purpose and meaning. Also, as an added bonus, don’t forget that many community groups provide practical help, such as transportation or meal delivery, that can help alleviate the burden of loneliness and isolation. By building a strong community support network, the elderly can feel more connected, valued, and supported, helping to combat chronic loneliness and improve overall well-being.
If you have a loved one who is experiencing chronic loneliness, there are several things you can do to help. First, it is important to listen and provide emotional support. This can be done by simply being present, listening without judgment, and offering words of encouragement and support. Additionally, you can help your loved one connect with others by encouraging them to join social groups or clubs, volunteer, or simply spend time with friends and family.
Effie is a health and wellness content creator who loves to share useful tips and tricks with her readers. She’s a contributing writer for SeniorPlanning.org, the largest eldercare placement agency in Arizona.
“While not directly connected to senior health, understanding the probate procedure in Arizona is significant for seniors. The probate procedure may be time-consuming and costly, so seniors should speak with an attorney to learn about their alternatives for avoiding probate and ensuring that their assets are distributed according to their intentions. They might also consider establishing a living trust to avoid probate and give greater privacy for asset distribution.”SeniorPlanning.org
Originally published April 12, 2023
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