As we age, our bodies tend to weaken and there will be some tasks that we will find difficult to do. This ranges from daily tasks such as maintaining good hygiene (bathing, brushing teeth, putting on clothes) and cleaning the house. These are the most common things people notice but what they do not know is that a senior’s difficulty with mobility can cause loneliness and social isolation. This is due to not being able to go out without assistance and socialize with their old friends or new people. Loneliness and social isolation can greatly affect not only their mental health but also their overall well-being.
Numerous factors can contribute to senior loneliness. First, it might be a sign of a mental disorder or another condition, like dementia or depression. Both conditions frequently result in social withdrawal, which in turn causes feelings of social isolation and loneliness. Additionally, elderly people may be reluctant to leave the house due to their health issues. They might worry that being away from the security of their homes will cause them harm or make their illnesses worse. Situational factors such as divorce, or the death of a spouse, children moving out of the house, or the elderly moving to a new location, other changes in their living environment, living alone, forced physical isolation, deterioration of their friend network, and a lack of opportunities to participate in the community, are some other factors that may contribute to loneliness among the elderly.
What is the Difference Between Loneliness and Social Isolation?
The absence of a social network or consistent interpersonal contact is known as social isolation. On the other hand, loneliness is the unpleasant or painful sensation of being alone. In other words, many senior citizens may experience social isolation, and loneliness is an emotional consequence of that isolation. It is possible to be socially isolated without experiencing loneliness. Despite spending the majority of their time alone and living alone, some seniors are content with their way of life. Even if you engage in a lot of social interaction with others, it is still possible to feel lonely. Being with others might not be enough to make you feel fulfilled to combat loneliness if you don't feel truly connected to or supported by those around you.
What are the Effects of Loneliness on Seniors?
A senior’s physical, cognitive, and emotional health may be significantly impacted by loneliness, especially if it lasts for an extended period. According to research, loneliness can be harmful to an elderly person's health.
Because it can worsen social isolation, depression is a particularly harmful consequence of loneliness in seniors. Spending time with others is very challenging due to the condition's effects on low mood and lack of motivation. Depression can be exacerbated if a person isolates oneself from their friends and family. As a result of loneliness, seniors can get caught in a vicious cycle of depression and social isolation.
High Blood Pressure and Other Long-Term Health Conditions
Several studies have linked senior physical health decline and loneliness. The association between loneliness and chronic illness was only one finding. In addition, a study published in Psychology and Aging demonstrated a link between loneliness in older adults and increases in systolic blood pressure over 4 years.
Reduced Mental and Physical Health Quality
There is a clear link between senior loneliness and their physical and mental health, according to a recent study based on data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. Researchers discovered that elderly people who experience loneliness and isolation report declines in their physical and mental health.
Cognitive Decline and Increased Risk of Dementia
The decline in mental health is another adverse health consequence of loneliness. Elderly people who have been lonely for a long time frequently experience cognitive decline and worsened general cognitive performance as a result. Furthermore, research indicates that the onset of different types of dementia is correlated with senior loneliness and social isolation. The elderly may withdraw even further as a result of this condition.
Loneliness and social isolation are both common among the elderly and it’s important to know more about the difference and their effects on someone’s mental health.
In Need of Assistance?
If you or a senior loved one is showing signs of or experiencing loneliness, don’t fret! Caregivers from Unified Pledge don’t just assist with daily tasks but provide companionship as well!
Unified Pledge Home Health provides a FREE consultation. Talk to them about your situation and explore your options.
Hiring professionals from Unified Pledge comes with the following advantages:
Level II FBI background checks of all staff
Driving history checks
Constant communication to patients, family, and care team
Registered Nurse supervision is ongoing with every care plan