Social Isolation

Social isolation among older adults is a growing problem that has significant physical and emotional consequences. According to a report by the National Council on Aging, about 25% of Americans aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. The report also reveals that social isolation increases the risk of premature death by 50%. It is also associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia and other serious medical conditions and can lead to serious health conditions such as depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

What is Social Isolation?

Social isolation is the state of being cut off from normal social networks. It can be triggered by things like loss of mobility, unemployment, and health issues. Isolation may involve staying home for long periods of time leading to being disconnected from social networks and the community. It is not just about being alone but also about feeling lonely and disconnected. It can happen to anyone, but older adults are particularly vulnerable due to factors such as retirement, the loss of friends and loved ones, and physical limitations.

Things to Look For

If you are concerned about a loved one in your life, there are some signs to look for that may indicate a disconnect. These include:

  • Withdrawing from activities they used to enjoy
  • Decreased interest in socializing with friends or family
  • Spending more time alone than usual
  • Not attending religious or community events
  • A decline in personal hygiene
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Sleeping more than usual

How to Help

If you notice any of the signs above, there are several things you can do to help. The first step is to talk to your loved one about your concerns and offer your support. Here are some other ways to help:

  • Encourage your loved one to participate in activities and events that interest them.
  • Help them find transportation if needed to attend events or appointments.
  • Connect them with local resources such as senior centers, volunteer opportunities, or social clubs.
  • Offer to visit or call regularly to check in and offer companionship.
  • Consider hiring a caregiver or companion if needed.

Helpful Resources

There are many resources available to help older adults combat social isolation. Here are a few:

  • AARP Foundation Connect2Affect: This website offers a variety of resources to help older adults combat social isolation, including a social connection quiz and an interactive map to find local resources.
  • Eldercare Locator: This website will help you connect to your local Area Agency on Aging. They provide a database of resources and services for older adults, including transportation, meals, and community programs.
  • The National Council on Aging: This organization provides a variety of resources and programs to help older adults stay healthy and connected, including evidence-based programs to reduce social isolation.
  • AmeriCorps Seniors: This program connects older adults with volunteer opportunities in their communities, providing opportunities to give back and stay active.

Social isolation among older adults is a serious problem that can have significant physical and emotional consequences. It is important to be aware of the signs of social isolation and take action to help. With the help of local resources and a supportive community, older adults can stay connected and engaged, improving their overall health and wellbeing.

Disclaimer: The content on this site is meant for general informational purposes and should not be considered professional advice. While we strive for accuracy, we recommend consulting experts for specific guidance. We are not responsible for any decisions made based on this information.

Liz Craven
Liz Craven

Liz Craven, co-publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide alongside her husband Wes, brings a blend of personal experience and heartfelt dedication to her work. Their path in eldercare started with a family story — caring for Wes' grandmother, Mabel, who faced Alzheimer's. This personal chapter not only highlighted the complexities of eldercare but also ignited their passion to support others in similar situations. Later, Liz and Wes filled the caregiver role three more times for their parents. Through the Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, Liz offers a mix of empathetic insight and practical advice, making eldercare more approachable and less daunting for families. Her commitment shines through in every piece of advice, aiming to ease the journey for others as they navigate the world of eldercare.

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