Social isolation happens when a person loses social connection with friends and family. In some cases, it happens suddenly when an older adult becomes disabled due to an illness, injury, or when they lose their ability to drive. Or, it might happen more slowly because of something like hearing loss that makes it difficult for them to interact with others. Whatever the case, social isolation is a serious problem that can lead to physical and mental health problems. It seems like social isolation would be easy to spot in your aging parent, but if it happens gradually or if you only see them occasionally, the signs of social isolation can be more difficult to spot.
About Social Isolation
According to AARP, one fifth of Americans aged 65 and up are considered socially isolated. Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. Social isolation can lead to some dangerous consequences for seniors, such as:
- Increased risk for cardiovascular diseases.
- Higher risk for early death.
- Worsening of symptoms of existing conditions.
- General aches and pains.
Signs of a Problem
One way to find out if your aging parent is socially isolated or at risk for becoming socially isolated is to talk to them. Ask if they are feeling lonely. Find out about their usual activities and whether they are getting out of the house to see others. Of course, they may not be entirely forthcoming with information about their feelings, so it can help to know what to look for. Some signs that your parent may be socially isolated are:
- Profound boredom, which may present as a lack of interest in things the person used to enjoy.
- Withdrawal from friends and family.
- Poor personal hygiene.
- Not eating a nutritious diet.
- A home that is in serious disrepair. The inside may be very cluttered to the point it appears the person is hoarding.
What Senior Care Can Do to Help
If your parent is currently socially isolated or is at risk for becoming isolated, senior care can assist with remedying the situation. Transportation is often a major obstacle for seniors remaining connected with others. Senior care providers can drive them to the places they need or want to go, including to social gatherings, community events, and to restaurants to have lunch with friends. Senior care providers can also help older adults to learn about happenings in their community that they can get involved in, such as volunteer opportunities, local classes, seminars, and events taking place through the local senior center. Finally, just having a senior care provider visit the house to help with tasks like cleaning and cooking offers your parent a reliable source of companionship.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED-ONE ARE CONSIDERING SENIOR CARE IN SUN CITY, AZ, CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE. CALL TODAY (623) 748-3301.