Isolation in Seniors and Why Socialization Is So Important for Their Well-Being


The Heritage at Shalimar Gardens Assisted Living

For more information about the author, click to view their website: The Heritage at Shalimar Gardens

Posted on

Jan 19, 2024


Nebraska - Eastern Region

Not only do loneliness and isolation in seniors and other age groups pose serious hazards to emotional, mental and physical health, but they have also been declared an epidemic by the US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, who has released a Surgeon General Advisory calling attention to this public health crisis.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Surgeon General’s Advisories are public statements that call the American people’s attention to a critical public health issue and provide recommendations for how it should be addressed. Advisories are reserved for significant public health challenges that need the American people’s immediate attention.

In his Advisory, Dr. Murthy states,

“Our epidemic of loneliness and isolation has been an underappreciated public health crisis that has harmed individual and societal health. Our relationships are a source of healing and well-being hiding in plain sight – one that can help us live healthier, more fulfilled, and more productive lives.”

“Given the significant health consequences of loneliness and isolation, we must prioritize building social connection the same way we have prioritized other critical public health issues such as tobacco, obesity, and substance use disorders. Together, we can build a country that’s healthier, more resilient, less lonely, and more connected.”

It’s clear that engaging and connecting with others is vital for older adults. One of the pillars of Dr. Murthy’s Advisory calls for “cultivating a culture of connection,” where people can come together and benefit from healthy connection. This is one area where the right living environment can play a significant role.

Isolation in seniors: understanding what’s going on

Mom doesn’t seem interested in having Sunday dinner with the family lately. Or Dad has stopped attending his regular lodge meetings. While having some alone time is perfectly normal, when it persists, it might be time to find out what is going on.

If you’ve noticed your loved one seems to be avoiding socializing with family or friends, you will want to learn what is behind their reluctance. There could be several reasons. For example:

  • They might be feeling unsteady on their feet due to mobility issues, which can lead to a fear of falling.
  • They might be experiencing changes in their vision or hearing.
  • If they are experiencing bouts of confusion, they may fear becoming lost.
  • Driving, particularly at night, might have become unsettling.
  • Even if you offer to pick up your loved one and take them to a family gathering, they might be worried that you will notice their physical challenges and decide they can no longer live on their own.
  • Their longtime friends and trusted neighbors may have moved on or are too busy with their families to include them in social events.

Isolation in seniors can be the result of several of these factors. Consider going with your loved one to visit their physician in order to determine if there is a change in health that needs to be addressed.

Let them know you are simply concerned about their health and safety, as well as their happiness. It’s quite possible they will welcome the opportunity to discuss their concerns with you.

Why isolation in seniors is so dangerous

Prolonged social isolation can lead to an almost 30% increase in the risk of premature death through health conditions including diabetes, heart attacks, insomnia and dementia. In fact, in terms of impacts on health and well-being, loneliness has been compared to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Why is loneliness increasing?

According to the Census Bureau, people are spending less time with friends and more time alone, and this was true even before the pandemic. Researchers say it’s due to many factors; some have even tied the first spike in loneliness numbers to the arrival of the smartphone in 2014. But even a fun game on the phone doesn’t replace the significant health benefits of engagement and connection with others, especially with older adults.

When it comes to isolation in seniors, choosing a vibrant senior living community can make all the difference.

Senior living: where getting the benefits of socializing is easy

A senior living alone in a neighborhood where most friends have moved away can quickly become bored and depressed. There’s nothing to do except watch television or take a nap. It can feel like the world has passed them by.

Take that same senior and put them in a vibrant, inspiring senior living atmosphere filled with friends and fun, and they’re most likely going to enjoy life in a whole new way. Just knowing friends are nearby can give a previously lonely senior a new sense of purpose and a feeling of belonging.

At Heritage Communities, we believe retirement living should bring more to your life. More fun. More friends. More ways to engage and connect. We call it living better. Here are just a few of the socializing opportunities you’ll find in one of our communities:

  • Activities and events that bring residents, family and friends together to celebrate holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions.
  • Pleasant dining experiences filled with delicious food and lively conversation.
  • Good friends right next door so there’s always someone close by for companionship.
  • Group wellness and exercise classes and programs make it easier to stay motivated and inspired to follow healthy habits.
  • Exceptional amenities that bring residents together for entertainment, learning, and more.
  • Inviting outdoor spaces for special occasions, family and visits, and moments of meditation.

Whether your loved one is a private person, a social butterfly, or a little of both, at Heritage Communities, every resident can enjoy the comfort and privacy of their own apartment, as well as a bustling atmosphere filled with opportunities for healthy socializing. We’d love to tell you more.

The senior living experience you want. Download our free guide, Family Decision Toolkit. Or contact us today 402-721-1616.

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concern?  What items do I want, or can I take with me?  How much is my house worth in its present condition?  What repairs and maintenance items need to be addressed to make the house more sellable, and what are the costs of those?Is It Time to Sell Your House and Downsize?Only you can answer the above question.  One of the primary items to consider is whether your house is too large or is just not the best housing option for your current or future needs.Has the death of a spouse made you ask if now's the time to move?  This can certainly occur after the loss of a loved one.Has your house become too much of a burden?  Has navigating stairs become a challenge or a danger to your health?Are there repairs or deferred maintenance that needs to be addressed?  Ignoring these items will not make them go away.  You may no longer want to take on the do-it-yourself projects that you once did.  These items may not be possible because of your current finances, or you just don't want to spend the 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Estate Sale Secrets

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the event itself, which may be at the house, online, or a combination of both.  For the home owner, this relieves the stress and hassles of handling all of the details that can come with an estate sale.One challenge that I often hear about is the timing of the sale in regards to needing funds to get the home owner (parent or loved one) into senior living, selling the house, having the estate sale or getting funds for the the belongings in other ways, and cleaning out the house to get the house sale ready.Home Downsizing Solutions can solve these problems by BUYING the house, getting the funds from the sale of the house to the seller/family immediately so that funds are available for senior living, having the estate sale to generate additional funds if possible, and then handing possession of the house to Home Downsizing Solutions "as is," with or without any stuff.  Home Downsizing Solutions will take care of any of the stuff you don't want, need, or can't sell.Other Options When You Don't Have Enough Stuff For An Estate SaleWhat happens in situations where there's not enough inventory to have an estate sale?  This can often happen once you've determined the items you want to keep, items you want to give to family and friends, and items you want to see donated to a favorite charity.Some home owners decide they still want to try to monetize the items they have left, which can lead to trying to sell items individually or by having a garage sale.  This can be financially successful, but you will need to consider the time and effort of organizing all of the items, pricing the items, marketing the event, and what it takes (especially your time) to have the actual sale.An easier "done for you" option is to have a company, like Home Downsizing Solutions, purchase your house and all of the "stuff" in it!  This allows you to just make one call to have your house and all the stuff in it sold, making the transition to a smaller home or apartment less stressful!Additional Resources For Downsizing Your HouseAlthough dealing with all of the stuff in your house to be able to make the transition to your next home can seem daunting, it doesn't have to be with the right resources. There are great estate sale and other companies that help with a person's belongings and the transition to a smaller living arrangement.There are services that can assist with packing & moving, finding the right senior living community.And, there are great services, like Home Downsizing Solutions, that can buy your house, take care of the stuff in the house, and facilitate moving to your next home, apartment, or other senior living arrangement.If you have questions, or we can be of service to you and your family, please contact us at (855)-433-5854 or at www.HomeDownsizing.comBen Souchek is an author of the book Home Downsizing Secrets, and the owner and founder of Home Downsizing Solutions, a company that specializes in helping home owners transition from their current house to a new home, apartment, or other senior living community for more than 25 years.

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