Since COVID-19 first made its appearance in the world, many people have been forced into isolation as a way to protect themselves against the onslaught of the virus. Medical professionals have known for many years that isolation is detrimental to seniors, but this virus has placed a renewed focus on ensuring seniors receive the social interaction they need. Many seniors are protected from the dangers of isolation by entering a retirement community.
What Are the Signs a Senior Is Isolated?
As people grow older, their social circles seem to dwindle. Family members may no longer be available. COVID-19 has further compounded an already serious problem. Seniors are warned to stay out of public places and are encouraged to shelter at home. If home equals isolation and loneliness, seniors can be in danger. Many seniors enter an independent living community because they want to experience new things and get out of isolation. The following offers some signs that mean a senior is isolated.
- The senior lives alone.
- They never leave their home.
- The senior has no close relatives.
- Seniors may have no contact with neighbors.
- The senior is alone for more than 8-9 hours each day.
- The senior has no telephone to use.
During the lockdowns with COVID-19, seniors have been afraid to leave their homes and may not have family and friends that can come check on them. Isolation puts seniors at a clear disadvantage. It is important seniors understand the risks they may face with isolation and a lack of activities to enjoy.
What Are the Risk Factors?
Seniors must realize the risk factors they face with isolation. One of the biggest factors for seniors developing loneliness and isolation is living alone. Many seniors live alone because a spouse has died and their children and grandchildren are grown. Moving into an independent living community offers a welcome change from the silence. The following provides some information on the risk factors seniors face.
Lack of Access or Awareness
Although there are often programs for seniors in most communities, many seniors may not have access to these programs or know of their existence. These programs are lifelines to isolated seniors, but they offer no help if they are not utilized.
Loss of Sense of Community
Everyone wants to feel like they belong and matter in the community. Seniors often feel as if they have been forgotten. What was once a vibrant life in the community now has become lonely and boring.
Health Issues & Disabilities
Another big risk factor for seniors is health issues and disabilities. These may prevent a person from being able to remain active and get out in the community. Mobility issues can cause a person to be even more isolated, especially during outbreaks of viral activity.
Fear of Socialization
Many seniors fear being social. COVID-19 has further increased those fears and kept many seniors from enjoying the lives they once led. Socialization is of extreme importance for seniors of all ages.
How Does Isolation Impact a Senior’s Health?
Many people do not realize how isolation can negatively impact a senior’s health. Studies have shown isolated seniors have a 59% higher risk of developing physical and mental declines. They also are at a 45% greater risk of death. Researchers in studies have discovered isolation and loneliness can be as dangerous as being an alcoholic or smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.
Studies have found heart health can be negatively impacted by isolation. In a research study in Sweden, it was discovered coronary bypass patients who had no friends or family were 2.6 times more likely to die within 30 days. In addition to this startling statistic, researchers found seniors were 64% more likely to develop dementia when in isolation.
Socialization Can Be Life-Saving
Seniors need socialization just like any other age group. Moving a senior into a senior community can be life-changing. Here, seniors interact with other seniors and participate in fun events. There is always something to participate in while living in such a community. Seniors should learn about their living options right away.
With socialization, a senior’s health risks are greatly diminished. Now is a perfect time for seniors and their loved ones to begin surveying their options. With these senior living programs, seniors no longer have to feel isolated and alone. They can experience life with excitement and joy.
Ocean Hills Senior Living offers a welcome oasis for seniors who are tired of living alone. They help seniors live longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives than they ever thought was possible. Amenities include pickleball, theater, golf, pool and spa, fitness center, and much more.