Social isolation and loneliness do not always go together. About 28 percent of older adults in the United States, or 13.8 million people, live alone, according to a report by the Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Aging of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but many of them are not lonely or socially isolated.
Potential Causes of Isolation Aging can, at times, include some form of vision, hearing and/or muscle impairment—factors that can put an individual at greater risk for falls. In the United States, emergency departments treat an older adult for a fall every 11 seconds (National Council on Aging , 2016).
– 24% of people aged 50+ living in England feel lonely some of the time, while 7% (equating to around 1.4 million people) feel lonely often (Age UK , 2018a). – Within the next decade, 2 million people aged 50 and over in England are projected to be lonely if efforts to tackle loneliness are not made (Age UK , 2018a).
Approximately one-quarter of community – dwelling Americans aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated , and a significant proportion of adults in the United States report feeling lonely.
Hawkley points to evidence linking perceived social isolation with adverse health consequences including depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function and impaired immunity at every stage of life.
Aging parents may be left alone if they are able to quickly recognize and respond to emergencies. The seniors should be able to physically reach the phone, call 911 and communicate the emergency. However, when aging parents’ cognitive abilities are in decline, thinking and judgment skills are affected.
Surveys of people who have experienced this form of extreme isolation point to a range of negative cognitive consequences, including difficulties thinking or remembering information, obsessive thinking, and hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms, as well as longer-term mental illness risks, and increased incidence
10 Ways to Help Seniors Deal with Isolation and Depression Treat sleeping problems. Promote a sense of purpose. Encourage social interaction. Keep them physically active. Make sure they eat healthy. Entrust them with a chore. Show them they’re loved. Seek professional help .
But the mere act of being alone with oneself doesn’t have to be bad, and experts say it can even benefit your social relationships, improve your creativity and confidence, and help you regulate your emotions so that you can better deal with adverse situations.
Being alone doesn’t lead to health problems. But when people feel disconnected and cut off from the world, it’s a different story. Although living alone may put some individuals at greater risk of experiencing those feelings, research shows that people who live with others can also feel isolated.
Social isolation can be a result of the symptoms of many mental health problems as well as a consequence of the associated stigma, disadvantage and social exclusion that people with mental illness can face.
More than 40 percent of seniors regularly experience loneliness , according to a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) study. This feeling of separation and disconnection from others may predict serious health problems and even death, the UCSF researchers find.
They found that loneliness was associated with a 26% increased risk of dementia . Additionally, one study found that loneliness was associated with a 105% increased risk of mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to dementia .