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6 Consequences of Social Isolation for Seniors

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As adults retire and get older, many of them live alone. They may lose significant others. Their children mature, move away, and start families. Older friends get ill and pass away. There are several ways social isolation can negatively affect aging adults during the golden years.

1. Poor Cardiovascular Health

When seniors feel isolated and lonely, they often become sedentary. As a result, hypertension and high cholesterol develop, and inflammatory processes take hold. Statistics indicate that isolated adults have a 29 percent higher risk of developing coronary artery disease, which often leads to heart attacks. Lonely adults also have a 32 percent greater risk of having a stroke. Encourage your senior loved one to become more active by going for daily walks.

Social activity is only one of many components that contribute to robust mental and physical health in seniors. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care service. Winnipeg families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

2. Elevated Cortisol Levels

Isolated older adults often have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol flowing throughout the body. Cortisol negatively affects glucose levels, induces inflammation, and contributes to cell death. The hormone also weakens the immune system, leaving seniors more susceptible to illness. Elevated cortisol levels have been known to contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, diabetes, neurological damage, and malignant cells.

Seniors who don’t manage their stress levels well could develop serious illnesses, making it a challenge to care for themselves on their own. If your senior loved one needs around-the-clock assistance at home, the Winnipeg live-in care professionals at Home Care Assistance are here to help. Our proprietary Balanced Care Method was designed to promote longevity by encouraging seniors to focus on healthy eating, regular exercise, mental engagement, and other important lifestyle factors.

3. Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenocortical Activation

Isolation and loneliness lead to stress that activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) systems responsible for regulating glucose levels, inflammation, and metabolism. The hormones produced by the glands also regulate the cardiovascular and endocrine systems. If the HPA glands remain active over time, the hormones have a negative effect on the organ systems they regulate.

4. Cognitive Decline

Along with becoming physically inactive, seniors often lose the motivation to exercise their brains. As adults who live alone get older, they’re more likely to lose their memory and other cognitive skills. If their minds remain inactive, seniors are also at greater risk for developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Encourage your loved one to read more, play word games, or work on puzzles. A gift of a tablet or laptop will enable your senior loved one to play games and download reading material that engages the brain.

5. Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits

When living alone, older adults often don’t have the incentive to take proper care of themselves. They may smoke or drink alcohol in excess. The foods they consume may be higher in fat, salt, and sugar, leading to cardiovascular health issues. By keeping in touch with older friends and family members, seniors are more likely to feel wanted and loved. They then have meaning in their lives and are more likely to engage in healthier lifestyle habits.

6. Reduced Longevity

Older adults who feel isolated and alone have a 32 percent higher risk of dying prematurely. The elevated hormone levels that contribute to health issues, combined with an unhealthy lifestyle, can reduce longevity.

Social isolation can result in mental, emotional, and physical challenges for aging adults, but they don’t have to manage them alone. In Winnipeg, elder care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. To schedule a free in-home consultation, give us a call at (204) 489 6000 today.