Senior citizens are dealing with multiple lifestyle changes and possible health concerns, but in a recent study, the most serious risks senior citizens face are not cancer and heart disease, it is the epidemic of loneliness. According to AgingCare.com, 18% of seniors live alone and 43% of them state they feel lonely on a regular basis. Even among seniors which are married or living with partners, two-thirds of those studied, stated there is pervasive loneliness because a lack of a meaningful relationship. According to the AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, adults 50 and over feel isolated and alone. AARP attributes this growing epidemic to the change in the way the society faces challenges today.
Here are some statistics AARP shows individuals 65 and older are dealing with:
- 45% are widowed, divorced or separated.
- 42% are disabled.
- 28% of men and 46% of women live by themselves.
- On average, Americans who are 65 today, live 20 more years.
People who feel lonely are more susceptible to declining health and die at an earlier age. It is also a known fact that loneliness can perpetuate itself because lonely people are more likely to behave in ways which make other people not want to spend time with them. Seniors who live in a solitary situation have a penchant for continuing to isolate themselves and not make attempts to engage with people.
In a time where global communication is a click or cell phone call away, society as a whole has become lonelier than it has been before. This trend has lead to the deterioration of family relationships, most especially those between a grandchild and grandparent. The breakdown of these relationships has caused seniors to feel as if they have been forgotten which leads to an inherit feeling of loneliness.
As the baby boomers begin to enter into retirement, more are divorced than in previous generations, more are geographically separated from family and friends, which leads to more isolation in this current generation. In another study, people that live alone and/or are no longer married are 70-80% more inclined to develop dementia.
At Senior Care Centers, we understand the importance of our residents not feeling lonely or isolated. We also understand that as caregivers, we are the link to the outside world and are committed to doing what is necessary to keep our residents feeling valued and an important part of our family. We believe in observing and listening to our residents, engaging them in conversation and activities, and understanding their needs. We bridge the generation gap between our older residents and the younger generation through community activities and involvement. We work with our residents and their family members to create strategies to combat feelings of seclusion.