Senior adults socialize in assisted living home

Isolation in Seniors and Why Socialization is Important for Well-Being

April 02, 2024

Importance of Socialization for Seniors

Everyone needs a little alone time now and then; however, isolation in seniors can lead to serious health consequences. If your older loved one seems to be avoiding social opportunities more than usual, it’s time to determine if there is a health-related reason, or has it just become too difficult to join others for an outing.

Isolation in Seniors: Why it’s Harmful

  • Prolonged social isolation can lead to an almost 30 percent increase in the risk of premature death, through health conditions including diabetes, heart attacks, insomnia and dementia.
  • Loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide.
  • Social isolation also has been linked to increased risk for stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

In an article referenced by the National Institute on Aging, Dr. Steve Cole, Ph.D., director of the Social Genomics Core Laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles, says, “Loneliness acts as a fertilizer for other diseases. The biology of loneliness can accelerate the buildup of plaque in the arteries, help cancer cells grow and spread, and promote inflammation in the brain leading to Alzheimer’s disease. Loneliness promotes several different types of wear and tear on the body.”

So, it’s clear that feeling isolated and left out can have very bad consequences on a person’s health.

The key is to determine why an older loved one seems to be pulling away. Seeing a physician is one way to rule out any physical causes for isolation in seniors, such as the following:

  • Poor eyesight or loss of hearing
  • Mobility issues
  • Confusion over directions or using public transportation
  • Anxiety about getting lost
  • Insecurity concerning driving
  • Hesitant to be around family members who might notice loss of mobility

The Difference Socialization Can Make

Health experts agree: to stay healthy and thrive, our brains need engagement and connection with others. In fact, according to the American Public Health Association, socialization is one of the most effective ways for seniors to improve mental health. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Socialization can help counteract the effects of stress that can occur during loneliness. Being around others they enjoy, participating in fun activities, and feeling part of a group can boost your loved one’s mood and mental health in profound ways. It also can strengthen the immune system, helping a person recover more quickly from illness and sleep better.
  • Socialization can promote self-esteem and a sense of fulfillment. People are just naturally happier and more at ease when they are enjoying good company. In fact, studies have shown that solid friendships could play a major role in slowing the decline of memory. Isolation in seniors can lead to a bleak future; healthy socializing can increase life satisfaction.
  • Socialization keeps seniors connected and introduces them to new experiences. When a person is just sitting at home alone most of the time with little or no contact or sources of stimulation, the world grows very small. Take that same senior and place them in an environment with interesting, friendly people and something positive is sure to happen—conversation, laughter, sharing stories and memories, opportunities to learn new skills and interests, and more. Being able to look forward to seeing friends each day can chase away the negative effects of boredom and mental inactivity.

Assisted Living Could be the Solution

Isolation in seniors can lead to depression, poor health, and a lack of interest in the future. Senior living, such as the vibrant assisted living lifestyle found at The Herrick House, can open the door to a bright and healthy way of life—good for your older loved one, and your whole family!

There are all kinds of ways for residents to spend their day at The Herrick House—an art program, a music concert, a game of cards, an exercise class, an outing, a sit on the terrace. One thing that always remains the same, however, is that whatever your older loved one chooses to do, they will be in the company of welcoming friends and caring staff.

The atmosphere is lively; the people are friendly. And there are endless opportunities to benefit from safe socializing, while still maintaining independence and privacy. At The Herrick House, we would love for you to come see what we mean!

Personalized support with the highest level of professionalism. Download our free guide, Should You Stay or Should You Go? How to Decide Between Home and Senior Living, or contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

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