Humans are, by nature, social beings. The fact that humans depend on one another to thrive has helped us build communities and create meaningful relationships with friends and family. There are benefits to remaining social throughout the entire course of a person’s life, regardless of age.
Socialization is another key component to healthy aging, in addition to a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine. In fact, social isolation can actually be both a sign and risk factor for bigger problems. Lonely seniors are at a much greater risk of elder abuse, early mortality and other serious health threats.
The Rise in Lonely Seniors
According to a recent study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, 43 percent of seniors feel alone on a regular basis. This rise in lonely seniors is, in part, caused by more and more seniors living alone. Approximately 12.5 million of non-institutionalized seniors live alone, according to a report by the Administration on Aging.
The increase in seniors living alone is compounded by the fact that a third of adults between the ages of 45 to 63 are single, and that 19 percent of women aged 40 to 44 have no children. Resulting in the “elder orphan” phenomenon, 22 percent of Baby Boomers will not have any family members to care for them as they age, increasing their odds of social isolation.
Limited mobility and sensory impairments, such as vision and hearing loss, are two other factors that cause loneliness. When diagnosed with a sensory impairment, seniors might not be as willing to leave their homes because they are embarrassed by their limitations, or they are simply not aware of the tools available to help them.
How Loneliness Affects the Elderly
Regardless of the reason, social isolation causes serious health risks for the elderly. Lonely seniors are much more likely to experience the following:
- Early mortality
- Decreased mobility
- Cognitive decline
- Elder abuse
- Lung disease
- High blood pressure
Luckily, there are plenty of programs and activities for seniors available to help them socialize with others, whether they are homebound or not.
Activities for Seniors that Fight Loneliness
None of us like feeling lonely, and loneliness has been proven to greatly decrease older adults’ quality of life. Fortunately, there are lots of different activities for seniors to enjoy together, whether they are homebound or not.
Here are some simple ways you can fight loneliness and socialize with others:
Staying Safe While Socializing
While engaging in activities for seniors that promote socialization, the key is finding the right activity for you. You won’t get the most out of the time you’re spending with others if you’re not doing an activity that you particularly enjoy.
The best part about owning a Mobile Guardian medical alert device is that you can receive help no matter where life takes you. Which means that you are guaranteed to have access to help whether you have a quiet night in with a friend, or are out in the neighborhood for a long walk with your dog.