As people get older, their likelihood of living alone increases. While living alone does not inevitably lead to social isolation, it can certainly be a contributing factor. AARP reports that more and more older adults do not have children. That means that there are fewer family members to provide company and care as those adults become seniors.
Older adults who volunteer, engage in religious or social communities, or visit with neighbors have less loneliness and better overall health outcomes. At any age, an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits contribute to a person’s overall well-being and decrease feelings of loneliness. Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we all have had a lot of time by ourselves…but that’s ok. Having healthy alone time will allow you to be mindful of your thoughts and surroundings.
However, adults who expressed feeling lonely experienced a significant decline in their health and ability to function. We also noticed that they had trouble carrying out activities of daily living. Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) include bathing, dressing, grooming, eating and getting in and out of bed.
But what is the connection between loneliness, isolation and premature death? Research suggests that isolation and loneliness are linked to high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, a weakened immune system, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease and early death. One study we have found stated that loneliness is just as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes per day! Lonely people are 50 percent more likely to die prematurely than those with healthy social relationships.
When it comes down to it, caregivers, family members and seniors themselves can do a lot to prevent loneliness and depression. At JEVS Care at Home, we understand that social wellness may be more difficult to attain for seniors, especially those who are limited by health problems or who do not live near family and friends. We provide companionship and other services designed specifically to increase social interactions that enrich the lives of our clients.