The pandemic may have brought the “loneliness” epidemic to the forefront, but seniors and older adults in Michigan have faced issues brought about by social isolation for longer than the past three years. At American House Senior Living Communities in Michigan, we have put together tips to combat the loneliness epidemic facing seniors. We understand being alone can lead to depression and other health issues for older adults.
Where you live as you age can make a big difference in your health and overall happiness. Many older people find their world shrinking with the loss of a spouse or other loved one and family members and friends moving away or passing away. Some seniors cling to their homes and want to age in place because it’s familiar and comfortable, but being alone is detrimental.
Tips to combat the loneliness epidemic facing seniors
If you or your loved one finds the ties that have connected you to friends and family have been severed, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and find ways to boost health and happiness and rebuild your community. Keep in mind that loneliness is one issue older adults face, but social isolation is becoming more prevalent. Loneliness is the feeling of being alone. Social isolation is the state of being alone – not having friends or family nearby and not having other people with whom to interact. Social isolation itself leads to loneliness and depression.
According to a study published in the medical journal PLOS Medicine, “the health impact of loneliness is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” Loneliness has been found to be a “strong predictor of poor physical and emotional health and early death.”
The risks of loneliness and social isolation include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Cognitive decline, including dementia
- Weight gain or loss
Seniors who are socially isolated may not get enough exercise, may not eat healthy meals (or at all), may drink too much alcohol and suffer from sleep problems, among other issues.
Some of the risk factors that lead to social isolation and ultimately loneliness include:
- Physical inability to leave your home/lack of transportation or health reasons, etc.
- A major life change such as the death of a spouse
- Financial struggles
- Living alone
- Having a limited social support network
What can you do to combat loneliness and social isolation? Here are a few ideas from the senior professionals at American House in Michigan:
- Find an activity you enjoy. Look for a class where you can meet people and learn something new.
- Phone or video chat with family members. Schedule this so it’s on your calendar and gives you something to look forward to.
- Sign up for a computer class at a local library (many of these are free) and learn to use technology to stay connected.
- Adopt a pet if you’re able to care for it. Be certain you have a plan for your pet’s care should you be no longer able to care for it.
- Get up and get moving. Take a walk. Join an exercise group. Find a friend with whom to walk. Aim for at least two hours of exercise a week. Any movement is better than no movement.
- Look for a senior center or a faith-based group you can join.
- Consider moving into a senior living community that offers planned activities, beautiful maintenance-free apartments and home-cooked meals. When you move into a senior living community, you could potentially be surrounded by new friends that will combat social isolation.
Give us a call today, schedule a tour and consider making American House your new “home sweet home.”
American House was founded in 1979 to enrich the lives of seniors and their loved ones in an environment that fosters independence, compassion, quality services and meaningful relationships. We provide a wide range of senior living options, including independent living, independent living with assistance, memory care services provided by a third party, respite stays and hospice in Dearborn Heights, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Sterling Heights and Westland.
Call an American House Senior Living community near you today to schedule a tour of one of our beautiful facilities and ask questions to help put your mind at ease if you’re considering a move for an aging loved one, spouse or even for yourself.