Isolation leads to loneliness and depression

Discover The Reasons Here As To Why Your Senior Loved One Feels Isolated

There are many reasons why seniors feel isolated. It often has little to do with the amount of time you spend with them. Pegasus senior care professionals in Mount Washington and elsewhere offer the following to help you aid your loved one.

One of the biggest reasons for senior isolation has to do with aging. Seniors and their peers may have mobility or medical circumstances that keep them from socializing. Friends that they were close to may have passed away.

Seniors with vision or hearing issues often give up struggling to communicate with others. Those who experience incontinence may choose to stay home rather than face potential embarrassment. A combination of factors such as these leads to diminished opportunities for social interactions.

One long-term study showed that people who are isolated start acting in ways meant to keep others away. They reject any efforts to socialize with them. The few contacts they have are with others who feel as they do.

Isolation Can Lead To Loneliness And Depression

As noted, an individual’s physical health can keep them from reaching out to others. Research also shows that loneliness can create additional physical and mental health issues. Seniors who spend time with others:

  • Have better nutrition and eating habits
  • Exercise more
  • Get enough sleep
  • Don’t smoke, use illicit drugs, or consume alcohol to excess

Individuals with good lifestyle habits such as these are better able to socialize with others. The more they socialize, the better they feel. Positive feelings enable better lifestyle habits and better health.

Seniors who don’t feel well mentally or physically stay home more. Unfortunately, isolation tends to drag their health down further. They get caught up in a cycle of loneliness and decreasing ability to interact with others.

Senior isolation often leaves individuals vulnerable to depression. Many incorrectly regard depression as a normal part of getting older. Their depression often remains untreated, which leads to further isolation and loneliness.

Chronic Loneliness Has A Detrimental Effect On Health

Chronically lonely individuals are at higher risk for loss of cognitive ability. If they already have Alzheimer’s or other dementia, the disease can progress faster. They are also at higher risk for heart disease, strokes, or diabetes.

Their immune system is compromised, leading to more infections, including colds. Lonely and depressed individuals are also less apt to seek medical help so that minor issues can escalate. Isolated seniors often experience a slow decline in overall wellness.

Clinical diagnosis of isolation, loneliness, and depression is difficult. Symptoms include:

  • An unexplained loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed
  • Consuming illicit drugs or misusing prescribed medications
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Lethargy not due to a temporary illness
  • Letting housework/yardwork go
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Weight gain or loss due to changes in eating habits

These symptoms can have other causes, and a physician may order tests.

Your senior loved one may have other symptoms. They may deny their feelings or attribute them to a temporary setback if questioned. Your observations of long-term changes are essential in determining what steps to take.

Tips To Help You Ease Your Loved One’s Isolation

It’s easy to tell someone they need to get out more. Sometimes a little encouragement is all that’s necessary. Sometimes more is required.

Start with hearing and vision checkups. New eyeglasses or hearing aids can make a big difference.

Senior exercise programs provide an opportunity for socializing while getting fit. Groups or clubs are available to meet every interest. Your senior might be able to renew an old hobby or take up a new one.

Places of worship often have senior activities, as well as spiritual counseling. If your loved one is a shut-in, church members are usually willing to visit. You may be able to arrange get-togethers with friends in your senior’s home.

Encourage younger family members to call or schedule visits even if they believe the “old folks” have nothing to say. Although the internet serves to connect people, your loved one might not want to deal with computers. Even so, you can utilize services such as Skype for visits with faraway friends and family.

Isolation Also Affects Caregivers

Your senior loved one may not be the only person experiencing the effects of isolation. As a family caregiver, you’re probably juggling myriad duties. Being a caregiver can significantly reduce your opportunities for socializing.

You can end up as lonely and depressed as the one for whom you’re providing care. One of the many services offered by Pegasus is respite care. Our professionals can provide transportation, housekeeping, meal preparation, or medical care as often as you need a break.

Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. We’re recognized as an industry leader due to the consistently high-quality care we provide. Each individual receives one-on-one services customized to meet their needs.

Perhaps your loved one just needs a caring person to provide companionship. Or perhaps temporary or permanent intensive care is necessary. Whenever assistance is needed, Pegasus senior care professionals in Mount Washington and our other locations are here to help.