Senior adult videochat

Regardless of the causes of senior isolation, the consequences can be alarming and even harmful.

Even perceived social isolation — the feeling that you are lonely — is a struggle for many older people.

Fortunately, the past couple of decades have seen increasing research into the risks, causes, and prevention of loneliness in seniors.

Here are 20 facts about senior isolation to help you stay informed: According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, both social isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality in adults aged 52 and older.

Statistics Canada reports that 80% of Canadian seniors participate in one or more social activities on a frequent basis (at least monthly) — but that leaves fully one-fifth of seniors not participating in weekly or even monthly activities.

Social contacts tend to decrease as we age for a variety of reasons, including retirement, the death of friends and family, or lack of mobility.

“This isolation can prevent them from receiving benefits and services that can improve their economic security and their ability to live healthy, independent lives.” Referring isolated older adults to senior centers, activity programs and transportation services can go a long way toward creating valuable connections and reducing isolation.

Loneliness and social isolation are major predictors of seniors utilizing home care, as well as entering nursing homes, according to a report from the Children’s, Women’s and Seniors Health Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Health.

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Whether this is because isolated adults are more likely to fall victim to abuse, or a result of abusers attempting to isolate the elders from others to minimize risk of discovery, researchers aren’t certain.One possible explanation: “People who live alone or lack social contacts may be at increased risk of death if acute symptoms develop, because there is less of a network of confidantes to prompt medical attention.” Efforts to reduce isolation are the key to addressing the issue of mortality, said the study’s authors.Regardless of the facts of a person’s isolation, seniors who feel lonely and isolated are more likely to report also having poor physical and/or mental health, as reported in a study using data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project.Early interventions for loneliness, say the study’s authors, may be key to preventing both the isolation and associated health risks.According to the National Council on Aging, socially isolated seniors are more likely to predict their quality of life will get worse over the next 5-10 years, are more concerned about needing help from community programs as they get older, and are more likely to express concerns about aging in place.

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