Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Senior isolation could be defined the same as social isolation which can be defined structurally as the absence of social interactions, contacts, and relationships with family and friends, with neighbors on an individual level, and with “society at large” on a broader level. The most parsimonious definition of social support is “the resources provided by other persons.” Isolation may include emotional, social, physical, financial, and other types of care, covering a broad array of individuals and institutions as the source of this care. There must be a measurement of age or in which age that someone can be defined as a senior. The World Health Organization believes that most developed world countries characterize old age starting at 60 years and above. However, this definition isn't adaptable to a place like Africa, where the more traditional definition of an elder, or elderly person, starts between 50 to 65 years of age.
After we know the definition of senior, social isolation, senior isolation, and at what age people are classified as a senior, let’s talk about the effect of loneliness that is caused by isolation especially for senior citizens. As we know, isolating seniors could limit their interaction and activities that could trigger loneliness due to a lack of communication between one and another. Approximately 13.8 million older adults live in one-person households, representing 28% of people aged 65 or older, according to the National Institute on Aging. It shows that there is a huge number for a large and growing number of seniors.
Loneliness, the empty-feeling with no one to talk to, so these elderly people need to deal with their own thoughts and not engage to communicate with their community could lead to risk especially in the health risks. A 2020 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found some disturbing health risks associated with loneliness.
Higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide are associated with loneliness.
Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly 4 times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.
Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes. Isolation also was associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia.
By these studies, it can be concluded that senior isolation could lead to a negative impact on physical and mental health.
Researchers in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London found that seniors who report feeling lonely and isolated are more likely to report having poor physical and/or mental health and it’s been published by the National Academy of Sciences. There are also multiple studies that have found that individuals with poor social networks and relationships are more likely to suffer from hypertension, coronary artery disease or cardiac failure, and are more likely to experience psychological distress. Social isolation and loneliness in older adults have also been linked with a greater likelihood of unhealthy behaviors, such as inactivity and smoking.
How Socializing Can Give Benefits for Seniors
Conversely, seniors can boost their mental health by socializing. According to the American Public Health Association, socialization, like the activities of the Amity Program, helps seniors in these ways:
Aids with cognition and memory recall
Promotes healthy behaviors, including exercise
Seniors can benefit from social activities, which are shown to improve mental health. These can include:
Billiards, darts, and other parlor games
Farming activities or gardening activities
Exercise classes and walking groups
Happy hours and group outings
Regular phone calls and video conferences with friends and family
Joining the Amity Program!
Swimming and water aerobics classes
How We Can Increase Connectivity for Senior Citizens in our lives?
Encourage In Terms Of Self-Esteem And Self-Confidence to prevent Isolating Behaviors
One of the major contributing factors to senior isolation is body image. Senior citizens may become self-conscious about their appearance to the point that they avoid social interactions entirely. By giving compliments and positive comments about your loved one’s appearance can go a long way and may even provide a boost of self-esteem and self-confidence that helps your loved one get out and reconnect with the world.
The Best Gift: A Friendly Pet
Pets also serve as a social icebreaker and can make it easier for seniors to strike up conversations with strangers. Having a pet such as cats or dogs could erase the feeling of loneliness and seniors can also have a small exercise by playing with them or taking care of them. Animal companionship alone may be enough to help ward off feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Encourage A Healthy Lifestyle
Eating healthy food, a balanced diet, exercise, and enough sleep could increase the quality of happiness. When we look after our physical health, we feel better too – fitter, more relaxed, and better able to cope with things. This is especially important when you have a mental illness. There are lots of ways of being healthy that feel good as well as doing you good.
Keep the Communicating
By regularly connecting each other through weekly calls or even weekly video calls to make a nice and memorable conversation that could erase the cause of their loneliness. One of the Amity Program’s opportunities is a telephone correspondence program that connects students with senior citizens through weekly phone calls. These intergenerational pairs get to know one another and can learn from the other. Or you may write a letter and decorate the letter together with them. It connects us with senior citizens through letter writing. These letters can be more creative and include drawings or are text-heavy. The ultimate goal of the Amity Program is to increase intergenerational interaction through communication-based programming.
Fun Activities Are Interesting For Seniors
In order to reduce the cause of loneliness and being isolated, we can invite them to join outside activities such as gardening, playing games, or even making a craft. One activity of the Amity Program is making a card. Making a card is an easy, fun, and important way to contribute to the work that the Amity Program does to decrease social isolation among seniors. This is an excellent project to do on a slow day or to do as a community or in a corporate setting. Making a card is a simple way to help brighten someone’s day.