Seniors as you get older you have friends, who have died, and maybe even your spouse has died, and maybe your own health is deteriorating. These reasons will create for some of you to become at risk for social isolation. Social isolation is different from loneliness. In fact, loneliness is often being considered to be the subjective counterpart of social isolation. Late life depression is the onset of depression for the first time in a person over sixty years of age. This depression is a consequence of social isolation and can be dangerous, and especially for someone already prone to health problems.
Social isolation in seniors can cause emotional issues like depression and loneliness and even create physical problems like immunodeficiency and heart disease. Many seniors have been diagnosed as dying of a broken heart after a spouse has passed. There is a serious physiological and psychological component to loneliness and isolation. Seniors that are socially isolated are twice as likely to die prematurely, and this includes seniors committing suicide. The mortality rate, for senior isolation is comparable to smoking, and loneliness is nearly twice as dangerous as obesity.
Social isolation can wreak havoc with your immune system and increase inflammation, leading to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and other serious health conditions. It has recently been a recent study which found that 40% of adults admitted to being lonely. Older adults tend to suffer the most, because they are less mobile, which may make it more difficult to establish new relationships and interest. The major cause of isolation is widowhood, particularly for couples who have had inter-reliant relationships. The same is true for spouses whose partners have dementia or are chronically ill. This is because social contact can fade away if they are consumed with care-giving and no longer go out much. This all can lead to depression and the feeling of loneliness and the feeling of being socially isolated.
Depression is not a given, and depression is not a normal part of aging. It is important to make sure you are not missing something big like depression or untreated pain. In addition, it is important to not limited your loved one’s ability, or interest in being social and involved in the world. It is also important to not confuse solitude for social isolation. Some people spend time alone and are fine with it. Social isolation and loneliness are real experiences and painful ones, and it is important to recognize them and keep them at arm’s length or further.
People who have limited contact with family or friends or community are classified as socially isolated. A person’s dissatisfaction with the frequency and closeness of their social contacts, or the discrepancy between the relationships they have and the relationships they would like to have impact whether a person feels socially isolated or not. Many people die from social isolation and loneliness, and individuals with depression associated with social isolation and loneliness can be predicted to have an early death. In addition, the early death can range from suicide, Adult Failure to thrive, and heart disease. Social isolation, however, increases the risk of dying regardless of one’s health and other factors, while loneliness increases the risk of dying only among those with underlying mental or physical problems. This just goes to show that human contact is far more important than most of us realize.