For many years experts have cited isolation as a cause of depression among older adults. In recent years, however, isolation has been linked to everything from earlier mortality to both obesity and malnutrition. If you are an adult child of an aging parent or the caregiver for an older loved one, here is what you should know about isolation and seniors.
The Facts about Isolation and Seniors
- Unhealthy behavior is more common among seniors who are isolated. It puts them at greater risk for poor nutrition, alcoholism, smoking, gambling and more.
- Transportation is a major cause of isolation. If a senior loved one has had to give up driving for health and safety reasons, make sure you connect them with their local resources for getting around town. The Agency on Aging might have a list of options for their community.
- Loneliness is a major risk factor for depression among older adults.
- Furthermore, being isolated and lonely can put a senior at greater risk for becoming the victim of a scam or fraud. This is especially true for those types of scams that involve a personal visit such as bogus home repairs.
- Older adults who don’t have someone to routinely check in on them are at an increased risk for mortality.
- Decreased cognitive function and dementia have also been linked to isolation. That is because older adults who aren’t able to get out don’t have as many opportunities to meet new people and participate in new activities. Both are proven methods of keeping your grey matter in tact longer.
- Isolation can lead to higher blood pressure. Experts believe it is because seniors who are on their own are more likely to live a more sedentary lifestyle.
- The loss of a spouse is considered to be one of the greatest risks for loneliness and isolation. Making the transition from being part of a couple to a single can be difficult in a variety of ways ranging from no longer having someone to talk with each day to a senior not wanting to attend events alone for the first time.
The Campaign to End Loneliness: Connections in Older Age has resources that can help you find ways to prevent a senior you love from suffering.