We often hear that people are living longer these days, but the reality is, for some, those later years in life can be a lonely time, especially for seniors who find themselves isolated.
According to a recent report published by Canada’s National Institute on Ageing, social isolation and loneliness have become a public health concern in Canada and globally; as these two factors are proven to have a negative impact on the health and well-being of older adults.
The report outlines the differences between loneliness and isolation, but highlights that both can play a role in declining health, and studies have shown specifically that these factors can lead to increased risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and cognitive decline, as well as heightened anxiety and depression.
A similar study conducted in 2019 by the US-based National Institute on Aging also raised alarm bells regarding the negative health risks associated with loneliness and isolation. In this report studies found that on the other side of the spectrum, older adults who had meaningful relationships and were engaged in meaningful and productive activities had better physical and mental health.
This information is all the more relevant, given that we have all recently experienced the isolating effects of the pandemic.
It’s a relief to know there are government level efforts underway to study the effects of loneliness and isolation among seniors, and to seek solutions that might remedy this troubling issue.
It is also heartening to know that everyday, our caring families and the staff in our AgeCare communities frequently go out of their way to connect with and residents and cultivate moments that matter. Our person-centred approach to care is all about bringing value, meaning and purpose to the lives of seniors.