Social isolation is a serious issue among millions of seniors in the U.S., and it is a problem growing at an alarming rate. Research shows that an isolated elderly person is subject to increased risk in numerous ways due to the lack of social connections or feelings of isolation. At Aston Gardens retirement community in Florida, we provide numerous opportunities for being socially connected. There is something for everyone in each of our communities, including Tampa Bay in Tampa, The Courtyards in Sun City Center, Pelican Pointe in Venice, Pelican Marsh in Naples, and Parkland Commons in Parkland. Sadly, however, some residents still suffer the effects of isolation. Understanding the danger is often the first step toward helping to prevent isolated lifestyles among not only senior citizens but also among many people over 50.
Hazards of Senior Isolation
Social isolation and loneliness go hand-in-hand, though loneliness is categorized as more of a temporary situation. Social isolation is when a person has near-complete or complete lack of contact with people and society. There are actually two kinds of loneliness. One is external loneliness, which is brought about by, for example, the death of a spouse. Internal loneliness is an issue closely tied to personality type. Whether you are concerned about a loved one who may be in isolation or you are living an isolated life, it is essential to gain an understanding of the risks associated with isolated living. The following are some facts established through extensive research:
- People age 52 and older living in isolation are at a higher risk of dying. The study suggested that the reason for the higher mortality rate could largely be because there is no network of confidantes who will help them when acute symptoms develop.
- There is a definite connection between loneliness and high blood pressure, studies show. An increase in systolic blood pressure commonly occurs to lonely adults, no matter a person’s gender, ethnicity, race, or any other contributing factors.
- Feeling lonely often leads to depressive symptoms among middle-aged and elderly adults. Treatment or frequent social interaction should be sought, if a person becomes isolated and/or lonely and depressed.
- The need for long-term care is increased among isolated seniors. In fact, social isolation and loneliness are considered major predictors of whether an individual will need home care or will need to enter a nursing home. On the positive side of this finding is the that fact that receiving the needed medical attention helps to alleviate the isolation.
- Based on extensive research by celebrated psychologist and neuroscientist Dr. John Cacioppo, feelings of loneliness are strongly linked to quicker cognitive decline, poor cognitive performance, and being at a higher risk of suffering from dementia.
- When people are lonely or socially isolated, they are much more likely to engage in unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, such as smoking, maintaining a poor diet, and failing to get an adequate amount of exercise. Experts say that living in a place like Aston Gardens retirement community in Florida serves as an effective barrier to social isolation.
- A senior only needs to feel isolated and alone to suffer the hazards associated with isolation, including being more prone to report being in poor mental and/or physical health.
- Socially isolated seniors have a more pessimistic outlook about their futures. A study by the National Council on Aging found that when seniors are isolated socially, they are more likely than others to predict that in the next five to ten years their quality of life will worsen.
Risk Factors for Being Socially Isolated
There are some situations which serve as indicators of social isolation, including the following:
- Geographic and physical isolation frequently leads to social isolation. As a result of isolation, seniors are often prevented from receiving services and benefits they are entitled to. Transportation services and referring isolated seniors to centers for the aged can help.
- Women tend to live ten years longer than they are able to drive safely and men tend to live six years longer than they can drive. Transportation challenges frequently lead to isolation among seniors.
- Family caregivers are at risk for social isolation, whether caring for elderly parents, a spouse, or another relative. When caring for someone with dementia, physical impairment, or Alzheimer’s disease, there is less opportunity for the caregiver to set aside duties as a caregiver and enjoy other social relationships.
There are ways to address social isolation, such as living in Aston Gardens retirement community in Florida. See this continuing series for more ideas and solutions to social isolation as well as benefits of being socially connected.
Aston Gardens At Tampa Bay is here to provide a range of senior living options for those ready to start the next chapter of their lives. Contact us today at 813.993.1276 to learn about our senior living programs, amenities, and floorplans.