Nearly 50 million Americans are over the age of 65, a number that will increase until 2030. But as people age, the unfortunate reality is that many will find themselves living alone at some point.
Feeling alone can be much more damaging than many people realize. From a practical standpoint, being alone can limit a senior’s access to many of the necessities of life, but there’s more to it than that. Seniors are at the highest risk for adverse health effects from isolation and loneliness, which can manifest themselves both mentally and physically. There are, of course, things that can be done if you or your loved one feels alone in the later years of life. Read on to learn more about what to look for and how to find the right long-term care solution for your situation.
Effects Of Loneliness In Seniors
Depression and Anxiety
Let’s face it, loneliness does not feel good. Many seniors report low expectations about their final years. It is common for these older adults to feel embarrassed to ask for help or see a professional, and without anyone around to notice the warning signs and risk factors of depression, they may engage in risky behaviors or otherwise neglect their own well-being.
The longer one lives, the more people they will have lost along the way. As friends and spouses pass and adult children have their own families, seniors find themselves without companionship. Women tend to live longer than men, leaving them at a higher risk for living alone in their advanced years. Many older adults lose their ability to drive, making it even more difficult to access social opportunities.
When seniors live alone without skilled nursing care, they often do not receive the level of medical attention needed to see early signs of common diseases or illnesses. Regular healthcare screenings are neglected, and the lack of transportation makes it difficult to get to doctor’s appointments. Additionally, inadequate nutrition leads to rapid weight loss or obesity, both of which make people more prone to serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or injury. Multiple debilitating conditions lower the quality life and increase adverse health outcomes.
Cognitive impairments can be just as debilitating, if not moreso, than physical health conditions. Memory loss or delusions from conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia permeate all aspects of life. Not being able to manage medications or remember important appointments means a decline in physical health. Lack of proper hygiene exacerbates other health conditions and also increases embarrassment, making it even more difficult to seek help. Further, the fear of being forced out of one’s home or social circle, disconnected from their communities, means that many older adults are reluctant to tell others when they are concerned about their state of cognitive decline.
Helping Seniors Overcome Loneliness
If you see signs of loneliness and isolation in your loved one, the best way you can help is to find them a supportive community with the right resources for both the patients and their families. The following are ways that a long-term care facility like Princeton Health Care Center can provide seniors with a higher quality of life.
Access to Healthcare
From the moment patients arrive, we assess their physical and mental health needs so that we are aware of any ongoing problems and can track the progression of symptoms. Our professional team provides a number of healthcare services such as occupational and physical therapy. We also coordinate care with off-site professionals to ensure that each patient has a team working with them to achieve the best healthcare outcomes.
Our Activities Department works hard to provide each resident with a plethora of opportunities for growth and socialization. Onsite classes and social gatherings allow for new passions to be explored and old ones to be rekindled. Friendships are formed and nurtured, providing important emotional support networks to get through difficult times. Regular field trips allow residents to see local sites and connect with the wider community, eliminating the feeling of isolation. We even have programs to help residents realize long-term wishes and dreams.
Higher Quality Relationships With Family Members
Depression and loneliness in seniors can be contagious. Once the burden of caregiving is lifted from family members with their own obligations, healing and reconnection is possible. As your loved ones gain more outlets to socialize and grow, they have more positivity to share with their visiting family and friends. The focus on quality relationships is one that should not be underestimated.
Finding The Right Skilled Nursing Facility
Everyone deserves the best care possible, especially in their later years. Call Princeton Health Care Center today to learn more about what we have to offer and to schedule a tour of our facility.