Seniors today are facing a “loneliness epidemic,” with 43% of seniors saying they feel lonely on a regular basis. For top researchers, including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Harvard University, this has become a big problem for the aging population.
What is Senior Loneliness?
Social isolation in senior populations can not only lead to mental illness like anxiety and depression, but experts say there’s a proven link between loneliness and physical health conditions like heart disease and dementia.
And the holidays can be particularly hard.
“The holiday season can be especially hard for seniors,” said Jennifer Knecht, Immanuel vice president marketing and sales. “Older adults are often faced with redefining their roles in traditions. That can be hard.”
Knecht said busy family schedules and transportation challenges intensify feelings of loneliness for seniors. But families can help even after the season is over.
“Loneliness doesn’t just impact seniors, but the issues for this population are often swept under the rug,” said Knecht. “Raising awareness and fighting against this loneliness epidemic is one of Immanuel Communities’ top priorities.”
Retirement Community Programming Focuses on Social Connection
Retirement communities, like those at Immanuel, focus programming on social benefits to help seniors connect socially, said Knecht. Special events, performances, dinners and social activities for the entire family are offered.
According to the AARP, potential signs of loneliness can include poor eating habits, loss of interest in personal hygiene or appearance, and significant clutter in the home, as well as a general lack of interest or withdrawal.
“Symptoms of loneliness are complex,” said Knecht. “But identifying the signs and getting help as soon as you notice them can make a big difference.”
How You Can Help
Immanuel Communities is taking a stand in raising awareness about the senior loneliness epidemic. We offer these tips to aging adults and their loved ones:
- Get to know the facts. Learn more about the loneliness epidemic and its effects.
- Take the online loneliness assessment – LonelinessAssessment.org Find out if you or your senior loved one is at risk. This assessment has been provided by Daniel Russell, Ph.D., one of the creators of the UCLA Loneliness Scale, to determine your loneliness quotient.
- Learn what help is available. Living choices, programs and activities can help lessen feelings of loneliness.
- Ask for support. A senior living consultant can guide you.
- Make the choice. Which solution helps foster feelings of liveliness and connection?
If you’re concerned about senior loneliness for yourself or a loved one, reach out. Visit LonelinessAssessment.org or call 402.682.8184 to learn more.