At some point or another, everyone is touched by loneliness. But for seniors, the greater concern can and should be the toll that enduring loneliness can take. Over time loneliness can lead to myriad physical and mental health issues. According to a startling study conducted by Brigham Young University, loneliness can be as deadly as smoking or obesity.
As the pandemic rages worldwide, lockdowns and social distancing measures have all but ensured that senior loneliness is reaching a fever pitch. If elderly adults saw little of their families prior to 2020, they will undoubtedly see far fewer smiling faces as we roll further into 2021.
Ahead we’ll take a look at some of the signs of senior loneliness and share a few ideas for helping your loved one feel — not so alone.
Loneliness can lead to stress - A study conducted by the University of Chicago found that chronic loneliness can increase the body’s cortisol production, the body’s stress hormone.
Chronic loneliness can give rise to unhealthy habits - As we’ve all seen over the last year or so, isolation and loneliness can lead to a proliferation of unhealthy habits and poor food choices. Over time the decisions to forgo exercise and eat junk foods can lead to a slew of other health issues. And this is no different for the elderly.
Loneliness leads to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease - In this study shared by The Journal Of American Medical Association, researchers found that the risk of Alzheimer’s was almost doubled in lonely adults, and the disease progressed faster as well. The study also suggests that this may be because in isolation, older adults have very little cognitive stimulation and early signs of the disease tend to go on unchecked.
Loneliness leads to higher instances of elder abuse - While this may seem counterintuitive, lonely adults can easily fall prey to scams and financial abuse if there’s no one around to look out for them. Moreover, neglect itself is a common type of elder abuse. And sadly, seniors are far less likely to report physical or psychological abuse when the abuser is their only source of care.
The only way you can really help a loved one or a friend in danger is if you know how to recognize the signs of chronic loneliness. Here are seven signs to be on the lookout for:
If you think your loved one is dealing with chronic loneliness, do your best to keep them engaged and active. While lockdowns and social distancing may not allow for regular visits, today’s technology certainly rises to the challenge. Video chats are a great way to engage lonely seniors without putting them in danger and remember, too, that cards or letters in the mail and good old-fashioned phone calls can brighten up anyone’s day.
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© Copyright Jazz Media Ltd. 2021. All rights reserved
© Copyright Jazz Media Ltd. 2020. All rights reserved