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Health at Home: Alleviating Senior Loneliness

Senior Loneliness

The long-term effects of loneliness should be considered when deciding if you or your loved one may benefit from in-home care by a home health aide, homemaker companion, or registered nurse.

It can be a very challenging thing to battle as one ages and goes from being surrounded by people and feeling well enough to do what one wants, to then being restricted by aging and feeling weaker.

Apart from the psychological difficulties that come with loneliness, the absence of having companion care around can actually be dangerous for the elderly.

As one gets into the latter part of retirement and loses the ability to maintain independence on their own, it can be extremely beneficial for them to have an in-home caregiver around to provide physical assistance and give an emotional uplift when needed.

Risk Factors

  • One risk factor for developing loneliness is living alone. This can be a very sad situation for an elderly or anyone to be in. If someone has recently lost a spouse or has gone through another situation that has left them living alone, they most likely find it very depressing to wake up every day and live their latter part of life without a companion. Often times you will hear of a surviving spouse passing away shortly after their loved one due to depression and loneliness if it’s left unaddressed.

  • Another risk factor is losing the ability to drive. This results in a large loss of freedom and interaction with others which can leave them feeling “stuck on an island” at home.

  • Many of the elderly also avoid physical activity because they don’t want to fall. This causes them to have to spend a majority of their time sedentary in their house without interaction. In addition to this being physically unhealthy, this can also cause a greater amount of loneliness and irritability as they will feel like they are not able to do the things that they used to do.

  • Last, a lack of contact with family can make a retiree feel like they are being forgotten and bring on feelings of loneliness or depression.

Health Risks

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), there is strong evidence available that much of the elderly population experience loneliness, and recent studies have found these correlations between loneliness and illness:

  • Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.

  • Social isolation was associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia.

  • Poor social relationships (characterized by social isolation or loneliness) was associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.

  • Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.

  • Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly 4 times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.

Alleviating Symptoms with Home Health Agency Assistance

There are many situations that could be positively impacted by having a home health aide or a companion caretaker around to provide support and a helping hand.

  • Depression can be relieved by companion care and the mental and emotional uplift it can provide. A retiree who is facing loneliness might have lost a spouse not that long ago and could be missing them, their kids, or other family members.

  • Having a companion or health aide around also gives them someone to talk to. They can decompress by getting things off their chest that are bothering them, or even just tell stories from their life.

  • The anxiety that comes from loneliness can also be greatly improved by having an elderly companion or home health aide in the house. It can be very frustrating growing older, losing independence, and not have the same strength to go about living life as one did before. A helping hand can get them back to some normalcy and alleviate some of the associated anxiety.

  • Preventing falls is also a big reason why having a home health aide around can be beneficial. It can be very easy for an aging retiree to fall, and many times can cause death due to complications after a hip break or fracture. Having a health aide in the house to provide supervision and mobile assistance can greatly reduce the chances of this occurring, and also provide some confidence in getting back to physical activity.

  • Social isolation can be greatly reduced by driving them to run errands, go to appointments, and to meet with friends for social events such as card games. Additionally, going on walks is very important in maintaining health for seniors. It’s good to have a companion or health aide around to assist and give the mental push they may need to keep up with these types of activities.

If you are considering care for yourself or your elderly loved one in the Palm Beach County / Boca Raton area, Unified Pledge Home Health offers a vast range of services that could help you or your loved one combat loneliness. You can schedule a FREE Consultation with us and we will customize a care plan that makes sense for you!

Hiring a professional home health aide or companion from Unified Pledge Home Health comes with the following advantages:

  • Level II FBI background checks of all staff

  • Driving history checks

  • Companions, health aides, LPNs are our direct employees and not independent contractors

  • Constant communication to patients, family, and care team

  • Registered Nurse supervision is ongoing with every care plan

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