Did you know that loneliness is a silent killer? In seniors, social isolation can be a contributing factor in a vast number of emotional, physical, and mental health issues.
There are many reasons why the seniors may isolate themselves as they age, including loss of a loved one, physical issues such as hearing loss, or simply not being able to get out much anymore.
Although these reasons are easy to understand, they don’t make the behavior any less dangerous. Here are five reasons why social isolation can be risky for seniors:
1. It May Let Serious Issues Go Undiagnosed
When seniors don’t get out as much, friends and relatives may not notice signs of declining health. When a senior is well socialized, things such as memory loss falls, depression and eating disorders are noticed sooner.
The earlier these things are discovered and treated, the more chance a senior has of living a happier, healthier life.
2. It Can Lead to Depression
Loneliness isn’t the only cause of depression in seniors, but it can make the problem worse. Getting out and joining in group activities has been proven to prevent depression in the elderly, and lead to a healthier mental state overall.
3. It Can Lead to Malnutrition
While seniors might not need as many calories per day as younger people, they do need adequate nutrition and regular meals.
Besides malnutrition, poor eating habits due to loneliness can lead to increased blood pressure and too high or too low blood sugar levels.It Can Increase the Risk of Dementia
4. It Can Increase the Risk of Dementia
Maintaining friendships, joining in-group activities, taking classes and receiving visitors are among the many things that alleviate loneliness in seniors. The great news is that it can also delay the onset of dementia.
The bad news is that when an elderly person remains isolated, they are more likely to experience cognition loss. When this goes unnoticed and untreated, it can lead to a domino effect of health problems.
5. It Can Lead to Long Term Care at an Earlier Age
Many seniors have to be placed in nursing homes because of a rapid decline in health. Some seniors simply cease to care about themselves anymore. Or they may become unable to care for themselves well enough. As they spend more time alone, the problems listed above become worse, and eventually they require full-time nursing care and supervision.
Socializing Can Provide Better Quality of Life and It’s Easy!
Now that medical professionals and communities are becoming more aware of the effects of social isolation, most areas have senior-friendly activities. Many of these are free and combine physical, mental, and social stimulation at the same time (a combination that shows potential for delaying dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as physical health decline.)
For seniors who can’t drive or leave their homes, there are also programs that bring companionship directly to them, as well as needed home health care. Even something as simple as providing a senior with an appropriate pet can be beneficial.
We might not think that loneliness could be fatal. But among senior citizens, social isolation is a serious problem that can have fatal consequences.
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