Humans are social creatures. We crave interaction with other humans, we crave conversation and quality time with them. At our core, we need to exist in a community atmosphere, not in isolation.
For older Americans, this can be hard to do. In this demographic, isolation is common, due to family arrangements and social structures. According to the National Institute on Aging, around 30 percent of seniors in America live alone. Adults that live alone often experience emotions that they might be unfamiliar with as they grapple with the changes around them.
Loneliness is a common phenomenon among those aged 45 and older. According to the Center for Disease Control, 25 percent of Americans in that age cohort feel that emotion. The CDC says that this figure is significant and amounts to a public health crisis, given its effects on the general population.
Among the most alarming aspects of isolation is its effect on health outcomes. Those that are socially isolated are at a significantly higher risk of many diseases and have a life expectancy that’s shorter than their socially active peers. Isolation and bouts of loneliness can also lead to depression and anxiety, both of which can also cause additional health issues and a 50 percent higher chance of Dementia.
In that way, isolation can create a cycle of poor health outcomes. Many adults that suffer from isolation and loneliness are unable to go about their usual activities due to chronic illness, so these factors sadly just compound an already difficult situation.
Brenda Abbott-Shultz, RN, Sagora Senior Living’s Vice President of Resident Services, has spent the majority of her career studying socialization’s impact on health outcomes, particularly its links to Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. She has used that knowledge to help craft communities that are committed to providing a social, inclusive environment for all residents.
At Sagora Senior Living communities across the country, residents have the ability to interact with all sorts of people – family members, associates, specialists and other residents. They take part in Lifestyle programs that are designed to keep them active – events like happy hours, holiday celebrations and outings to local museums.
The diversity of events and interactions available to residents is key. Brenda likes to point out that in a way, the mind is like a muscle, it needs to be worked out, to be challenged, in order to maintain its strength and continue to grow. When there are constantly new people to meet, new activities to partake in, health outcomes are much better.
“Seniors who learn something new reduce their chance of Dementia.” Brenda said. “All the synapses in your brain are firing and continue to work when you learn something new, and they have to work harder throughout your brain. That keeps you young of mind and can prevent dementia from occurring.”’
Brenda recommends that seniors learn how to use programs like Zoom, Skype or Facetime on their phones and computers. It gives them the ability to communicate with family members who may be hundreds of miles away, lessening the isolation that can come from living alone.
If you or someone you know is struggling with isolation and loneliness, then Sagora Senior Living can lend a hand. With more than 55 communities across 11 states, you can find a community that’s the perfect fit for you. Contact your local Sagora community today to arrange a tour and see why Sagora Senior Living stands above the rest!