We live in an age where we can communicate with friends and family with a few clicks of a mouse. However, despite advances in communications technology and the increasing connectedness it brings, research indicates that, as a society, we are lonelier than we have ever been. Perhaps no other age group feels the keen sting of loneliness more than the elderly.
With roughly one out of eight Americans now over 65, loneliness and isolation are becoming hot-button issues for all of us. Consider these facts, from the Administration on Aging:
· Twenty-eight percent of Americans over 65 live alone; for women, it’s a startling 46 percent.
· People over 65 have an average life expectancy of almost 20 more years.
· While 72 percent of men over 65 are married, only 45 percent of women are married; 37 percent are widows.
· Almost half of women over 75 live alone.
Sometimes an older adult lacks a network of family and friends; other times seniors may withdraw into isolation as a result of health conditions, depression or mental illness. Physical limitations such as a fear of falling can keep a senior isolated in her home, as can fatigue, chronic pain, or shame over memory problems. Many seniors become nervous about driving long distances or can no longer drive after dark, and they may fear or resist using public transportation options.
As a result of these factors, older adults may be alone for days or even weeks; a recent survey in England found that one-fifth of adults over 75 reported having contact with another person less than once a week, and one in ten said they might see a visitor less than once a month.
A lot of families are under the belief that if their loved ones move into a retirement community or assisted living, they will have an active social life and get other benefits like medication assistance or ability to call and talk to the nurse 24/7. I agree with those notions but they may also experience isolation in their room if they are not participating in activities. They may get bored with the same surroundings and feel depressed. Also, there is the monthly cost to such a venture which can preclude seniors without the finances.
Fortunately, there are ways to counteract these negative effects.
Explore Things Around You
To avoid social isolation and improve your health and well-being: get out and see more things where you are. You might get out to a local park or shopping center, You could take a trip to another city or even a country that you have never been to before.
Focus On Your Health
One of the greatest problems with isolation and loneliness is that it causes people to ignore their health and well-being—both physical and psychological well-being. Lonely people often feel as though no one has a concern for them, thus leading such people to drink, smoke, and eat unhealthy food.
Be More Creative
Many people like to be creative as they get older. Whether it entails writing books, performing music, or painting art, creativity is something that makes the mind happier. This is one part of dealing with loneliness that many seniors enjoy.
Look To Volunteer Where You Live
One of the best ways seniors can make the most out of their lives is by looking into volunteering opportunities. These are events where people can go out and assist others with organizing special events or activities in a community.
Adopt A Pet
Consider adopting a pet. Having a nice pet in the home entails more than just having a companion on hand. It is also about making you feel positive about your life.
The love that a pet provides is always unconditional. A pet will never criticize someone and is always accepting of people for who they are. Pets never judge people and are always there even during the toughest of times in life.
Take a Class
A review of studies looking at various types of interventions on senior loneliness found that the most effective programs for combating isolation had an educational or training component: for instance, classes on health-related topics, computer training, or exercise classes.
Senior isolation is neither inevitable nor irreversible. Getting the facts can help us prevent loneliness in our senior loved ones as they face life changes of aging.
Have you or a loved one suffered from loneliness or social isolation during the aging process? We can help. We teach anti-aging techniques that not only to make you look younger but also increase your vitality so you will not be stuck in a wheelchair.
Schedule a 15 minute complimentary phone consultation with Prudhvi Karumanchi, M.D. at https:/calendly.com/drkhealthcare or call (813) 337-7535 for more information.
Dr. Prudhvi Karumanchi is Board Certified in Sleep Medicine, Internal Medicine, Geriatrics and Functional Medicine. He is a Certified Energy Mastery® Practitioner and a practicing, Emergency Medicine Board Certified Physician who takes a complete approach to your healthcare.