Studies: Link Between Social Connections and Senior Health
Loneliness can affect more than the amount of fun you have in retirement. AARP found that lonely seniors were more likely to have poor health, with over 55% of respondents struggling with wellness reporting that they also felt lonesome. For some seniors, the problem of loneliness starts with actually living alone. The U.S. Census Bureau noted that 11 million people aged 65 and older lived alone, which not only meant they didn’t have much company, but also can make it harder to get out and about, tend to daily tasks, and practice self-care.
“The need we’ve had our entire lives — people who know us, value us, who bring us joy — that never goes away,” said Barbara Moscowitz, a senior geriatric social worker who spoke to The New York Times. Our need to connect with other people, to feel seen, heard, and valued, is a lifelong one, but it becomes harder to meet over time.
It’s easy to forget, in an era of on-demand connectivity when our friends and family are just a smartphone away, that loneliness is one of the most pervasive health threats to senior citizens. It’s not because seniors aren’t online, either. Rather, seniors are isolated for much the same reasons they’ve always been — lack of access to transportation, the physical effects of aging, the loss of friends and family to life circumstances or death, living in a society that doesn’t prioritize accessibility for the disabled, and even embarrassment over medical conditions or signs of aging.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that the key to combating loneliness in seniors isn’t high-tech at all. It’s the senior care home like Regency Retirement Village here in Jackson TN.
Social Connection and Happiness Linked to Longevity and Good Health
It can be harder to make friends as we get older, as anyone who’s ever had to move to a new city after college can attest. That’s further compounded if you have mobility limitations or physical disabilities, trouble communicating, or feel embarrassed by dealing with conditions like incontinence. It can mean everything to a senior to spend time with people of similar ages dealing with similar shifts in wellness, knowing they don’t stand out and do fit in. Likewise, the helpful staff at a senior care facility takes a lot of the stress off for older adults, whether it’s from dealing with challenging activities like cooking or super personal matters like dressing.
A retirement home helps combat loneliness from multiple fronts. It provides a connected, nurturing community, assistance with the tasks that become more difficult with aging, and an array of stimulating, meaningful activities that can help seniors feel active, productive, and enriched. Rather than feeling they’re on the outside looking in, at a senior care home older adults suddenly find they’re in the middle of all the action. There are people to share meals with, the reassurance of physical contact, and opportunities for real conversation.
That’s a stark contrast to the plight of many lonely seniors, who might find it frustrating or even humiliating to need help and not know who or how to ask.
The confidence of knowing all your needs are met, often without needing to say a word, is deeply reassuring and helps seniors maintain their dignity and enthusiasm for life. That’s crucial when depression can have such a profound effect on everything from memory disorders to remembering to take daily medications.
No matter our age, we all want to feel needed, included, and self-sufficient. Loneliness amongst seniors often hides in plain sight. So don’t wait to have a conversation with your loved senior until the signs of loneliness are too stark to ignore. The sooner you get connected to a caring community like Regency Retirement Village of Jackson, the sooner you can get back to getting the most out of life.
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