Studies show that social isolation in the elderly is a serious problem among older adults in the United States. The numbers are alarming, and what makes it even more of a concern is the fact that more and more of these individuals already feel lonely and isolated. All of these endanger many aspects of their health. If you do not want your loved one to go through this crisis, then it will be best to know the dangers that come with social isolation.
What Do Numbers Say?
As mentioned a while back, social isolation is devastating for the elderly in a community. Statistics show that about 24 percent of adults in the US (those between 65 and above) feel socially isolated, four percent of which feel that their case is severe. As for Americans who are aged 60 and above, 43 percent reported that they feel lonely. Among the factors that make them feel socially isolated are being widowed or divorced, having limited mobility or a disability, living alone, living below the poverty line, and never having the chance of being married.
Social Isolation vs. Loneliness
One can be socially isolated, but that does not mean he or she feels lonely. There are many who at least feel fine when they live alone. Note that there is a difference between social isolation and loneliness. Social isolation is when one lacks regular interaction or social connection with others. Meanwhile, loneliness is that painful or uncomfortable feeling that comes with being alone. Loneliness can be an emotional effect of social isolation, but not all the time. Regardless, social isolation entails the following dangers.
Increased Risk to Cognitive Health
Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and a bunch of other cognitive problems happen when you are socially isolated. Without regular interaction, you tend to lack language reception and production, thus causing your memory and cognitive skills to decline. Whether you are in a senior living community or in your own home, always make it a point to participate in social events.
Increased Risk of Chronic Health Conditions
Those who are socially isolated have a 29 percent risk of developing heart disease, and 32 percent increase their chances for stroke. For those who feel lonely on the other hand, 68% have increased their chances of being hospitalized, and 57% increased their risk of being in the emergency department. Build your social skills through sports and exercise, and you are sure to eliminate these dangers.
Feelings of Depression
This is regarded as one of the most harmful effects of being socially isolated and feeling lonely at the same time. This will cause a person to be in a low mood with a lack of motivation accompanying that mood. This gives you lesser time to feel the need to spend time with others, which in turn, can aggravate the situation. This becomes a vicious cycle that you never want to get into.
Now that you know the dangers of social isolation, it is time to address them. You never want to increase your rate of mortality just because you think it is good to spend time alone all the time. You have family and friends around you that you can talk to when you need help.