6 Effects of Social Isolation on Older Adults

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Many seniors become reclusive as they grow older, and that social isolation can negatively impact almost every aspect of life, which is why caregivers and family members need to promote social activities and nurture their relationships with their aging loved ones. Here’s a quick look at just a few of the devastating side effects of long-term isolation and some steps you can take to make sure your loved one remains socially engaged.

1. Higher Rates of Anxiety

In addition to being a psychological problem, anxiety can also impact a senior’s physical health. Untreated anxiety often results in issues such as high blood pressure, heart palpitations, and general inflammation. When seniors feel ignored or isolated, they have a much greater risk of developing clinical anxiety, and one of the best ways to combat that issue is to make sure they have empathetic and diligent caregivers.

2. Increased Risk of Depression

Much like anxiety, untreated depression can affect physical health and emotional wellbeing. Some of the most common signs of depression include limited energy, changes to the sleep schedule, an inability to concentrate, and a loss of appetite. Spending time with your loved one can reduce the risk of depression, but you might want to contact a therapist or counselor if you’ve recently noticed any of these symptoms. 

Social activity is only one of many components that contribute to robust mental and physical health in seniors. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of in-home care. Caledon families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

3. Lack of Help During an Emergency

Hundreds of thousands of seniors are injured in their homes every year, and these accidents can result in life-altering health issues. A caregiver can call emergency services right away if your loved one is injured, but you should consider investing in a medical alert device as well. Your loved one can use one of these devices to immediately contact emergency services if he or she is injured when no one is around.

4. Risk of Sudden Cognitive Decline

One of the most unusual side effects of social isolation is a higher risk of sudden cognitive decline. Many studies from around the world have shown that seniors need to socialize as often as possible if they want to maintain their mental faculties. Scheduling weekly family dinners, hosting game nights, and volunteering are all great options for seniors who would like to socialize more.

5. Higher Likelihood of Obesity

A recent study published in PLOS Medicine revealed a link between social isolation and obesity. Seniors who live on their own often remain sedentary throughout the day, and many of them have very unhealthy diets. At the very least, you should try to stop by your loved one’s home a few times a week to drop off some healthy meals and snacks. 

Seniors who don’t practice healthy lifestyles could develop serious illnesses, making it a challenge to care for themselves. If your senior loved one needs around-the-clock assistance at home, the Caledon live-in care professionals at Home Care Assistance are here to help. Our proprietary Balanced Care Method was designed to promote longevity by encouraging seniors to focus on healthy eating, regular exercise, mental engagement, and other important lifestyle factors.

6. Greater Chance of Malnourishment

When left untreated, malnourishment increases the risk of several medical complications. Having the occasional treat is perfectly fine for the average senior, but the diet should primarily consist of nutrient-dense foods. If you believe your loved one might be malnourished, you need to speak with a nutritionist or doctor about helping your loved one maintain a healthy diet.

Social isolation can result in mental, emotional, and physical challenges for aging adults, but they don’t have to manage them alone. In Caledon, at-home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. Reach out to us at Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate, professional care for your loved one. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at 905-951-8885 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.