Social Isolation And Loneliness In Seniors
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Social Isolation And Loneliness In Seniors

November 19, 2019 | Life | By Lisa Smith

As human beings age, they tend to socialize less often then they did when they were much younger. This is a thing of concern because senior citizens are vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness which can lead to depression and heart diseases.

Social isolation is often mistaken for loneliness. Social isolation is a situation where an individual has few social contacts and few social roles. It is simply the absence of social and mutually rewarding relationships in one’s life.  Loneliness, on the other hand, is the feeling of lack or loss of relationships in the midst of a lot of people around you. Social isolation can lead to loneliness; this doesn’t mean they are the same thing. You can be lonely in a crowded room but not socially isolated.

Side Effects Of Social Isolation And Loneliness

 Social isolation and loneliness are a concern because of its negative impact on individuals and their families. Some of these side effects include

  • Depression
  • Increased chances of premature death
  • Poor general health
  • Poor general well-being
  • Poor mental health
  • Diseases like high blood pressure, obesity, heart diseases, Alzheimer’s diseases, and cognitive decline
  • Death

Which Seniors Are At Risk Of Social Isolation And Loneliness?

 Due to some circumstances and experiences, some seniors have a higher chance of being socially isolated and lonely compared to others their age. They include

  • Seniors living alone
  • Seniors with Limited assurance with daily routine activities
  • Seniors with Low emotional support
  • Seniors with no partner

Signs Of Social Isolation In Seniors

There are certain signs that can be noticed in seniors who are socially isolated asides loneliness and depression. They include

  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Lack of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Loss of interest in socializing and hobbies

Signs Of Loneliness In Seniors

There are certain signs of loneliness in seniors to watch out for, they include

  • Lack of sleep
  • Increased buying habits
  • Lack of appetite
  • Loss of driving abilities
  • Always indoors
  • Constantly missing friends and family

Risk Factors Associated With Social Isolation And Loneliness In Elders

There many social, environmental and individual factors that can increase the risk of social isolation and loneliness in elders. They include

  • Ignorance
  • Poverty
  • Low self-esteem
  • Disabilities
  • Loss of a spouse
  • Living alone
  • Old age
  • Place of residence
  • Transportation issues

Ways Elders Can Reduce The Risk Of Social Isolation And Loneliness

  • Having good health
  • Adequate income and shelter
  • Residing in a safe and social neighborhood
  • Having good social support networks
  • Having access to transportation
  • Satisfying personal relationships
  • Participating in community activities and experiencing meaningful roles

How To Overcome Social Isolation And Loneliness In Elders

Being social again is easier said than done, nevertheless, there are certain steps that can be taken that will help create the enabling environment and opportunities for socialization. Here are some things seniors can do to overcome social isolation and loneliness.

1. Rekindle your interest in old hobbies or get new ones

 Asides keeping your mind active, this will also help you go out and meet new people, make new friends and build new relationships. Hobbies can also keep you engaged, motivated and forward-thinking.

2. Get yourself a pet

 Getting a pet will help you both mentally and physically. Animals can provide great and constant companionship. They also encourage physical exercise and a good sense of responsibility.

3. Do some exercise

 Exercise will help keep your mind and body running. It can also help you socialize. This is why it is advisable to work with a group where you’ll get to meet new people and also be motivated to get the desired result.

4. Maintain a social network

This can be done both offline and online. Join clubs, social groups, attend social gatherings and spend time with others. You could also connect with people or groups on social media. These will prevent social isolation and loneliness or help get out of it.

5. Make new friends

 Make efforts to meet new people. This will go a long way to overcome social isolation and loneliness. You can start by enjoying the company of casual acquaintances which will lead to friendship in due time.

6. Volunteer

Volunteering can help keep you active and engaged. It will also help bring out the positives in your life and things you can be thankful for while you help others.

 Social isolation and loneliness are certainly something to worry about and overcoming it is the responsibility of not just friends and family but also the community and government. More awareness should also be created and with everyone on board we will be able to tackle social isolation and loneliness in our communities.

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