The feeling of isolation can be debilitating and can happen to anyone at any age. For this reason, it’s important to understand the leading causes of social isolation, the impact it has on a person and ways to minimize isolation. If one of the following describes you or someone you love, you may be at risk of social isolation or even depression.
- Loss of Family or Friends
- Decreased Mobility
- Mental Health Concerns
Whenever we experience a loss of a friend or family member, a part of us goes missing too. This could be related to the person passing or just not being as accessible as they once were. The lack of social contact you once had with that person creates a sense of loss, causing the feeling of being alone. While there is never a substitute for the loss of someone you love, you can refocus your attention or that of your loved one’s on a new, healthy alternative to help make up for the void.
Did you know, 69% of people ages 65 or older has at least 1 physical aliment or impairment? As the body gets older and starts to break down, our mobility decreases. We may not be able to do the things we once did in the same way. For many people, that can be embarrassing, causing them to feel alone and isolated. One way to help combat this is to talk about the changes you are experiencing openly. You may realize that other people may have similar experiences. It’s nice to know you are not really alone. Together, you may be able to find alternative ways to still do the things you love to do, but in a modified way.
With a loss of family or friends and/or decreased mobility or other physical impairment, mental health concerns can add to our feeling of loneliness and isolation. Often stress, anxiety and depression can enter the scene and escalate the situation. 1 out of 4 seniors are living with at least one of these mental health concerns. To top it off, you are 64% more likely to develop dementia because you feel lonely. Admitting there is a something that needs to be addressed and seeking professional help is your best first step to managing these wellness concerns, being a healthier you and living a more enjoyable life.
Encouraging family and friends to stay engaged is the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. With today’s medical advances, health services available and technology, we can effectively manage and avoid social isolation. Reach out to family and friends. Talk to them on the phone, send a text during the day, message them on Facebook or LinkedIn, or use your smartphone for video conferencing, Skype or FaceTime. Remember the importance of face time to build a trusting and supportive relationship. Schedule time to spend together over a meal or doing an activity you both enjoy. Participation doesn’t always mean spending money either. Join a local group, attend an event at the library or senior center or invite people over. We as humans need to feel connected and purposeful. You have the ability to positively impact someone’s life. Keep connecting!