When we think of worrying issues that are faced by seniors, we tend to think of physical conditions like cancer, diabetes, or dementia. However, this is not always the case. In fact, one of the most common health concerns that are faced by older adults is actually loneliness. It is important to take note that being solitary does not equate to feeling lonely.
Feelings of loneliness occur when a person enters a state of mind where they want meaningful human contact and interactions but they are feeling alone. This can be due to many factors such as the death of a close friend or spouse, change in living conditions, or other existing illnesses. While everyone will feel alone and lonely at some point in their life, the health effects of loneliness have been connected to a large number of health effects like high blood pressure, increased risk of mortality, cognitive decline, depression, and many other conditions. Here’s more information on what could happen.
Reduced Mental And Physical Health
This is a more commonplace and expected health effect of extensive loneliness and is also generally the first health effect that can be observed. Generally speaking, loneliness has a direct correlation to deteriorating physical and mental health.
Older adults who are alone and lonely are more likely to have poorer health and mental conditions. This is because feelings of loneliness can actually trigger the production and release of different stress hormones, leading to continuous feelings of uneasiness and physical manifestations like higher blood pressure and reduced bodily immunity. One clear example of its impact on mental health is that lonely individuals are more likely to experience negative feelings like depression, low self-worth, and a sense of numbness.
Increased Risk of Mortality
A study done by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has found that loneliness and social isolation have been associated with higher risks of mortality in older adults that are 52 years old or older. There are multiple factors that contribute to this. For example, older adults who live alone or have a more restrictive social circle are more likely to have a smaller support system. This means that they could be less likely to seek or get support in seeking medical attention when acute symptoms start to develop.
Increased Risk of Dementia And Cognitive Decline
Loneliness is not just a social status. As a mental condition, there have been correlations with declining mental health. Studies by Dr. John Cacioppo at the University of Chicago have highlighted that loneliness is a risk factor for the overall decline in cognitive performance and even faster cognitive decline.
Enjoy A Lively Community at TerraBella Hillsborough
For most people, living in social isolation or feeling lonely may be due to factors that are completely out of a person’s control. Factors can include your family’s living configuration, loss of a spouse or friend, or the accessibility of senior-specific communities in your area. Our retirement community is designed to fill that gap by bringing together a community of like-minded individuals and creating opportunities for friendship and relationship building through a wide array of exclusive senior living programs.