Isolation and Loneliness Can Make Seniors Sick or Suicidal
Chronic loneliness and isolation are not just painful conditions. They can actually be fatal. The elder abuse lawyers at Garcia & Artigliere have seen numerous elder abuse cases involving depression and isolation. That’s how important social connection is to our health and well-being.
How Loneliness Affects Health
Studies show that being lonely causes stress, which increases the amount of stress hormones and inflammation in the body. The result can be a whole range of potential health problems, including dementia, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and depression. People who are chronically lonely can become suicidal.
Seniors Who Are Isolated Are at Risk
Seniors who have few social contacts are at risk of feeling suicidal. While seniors may feel lonely anywhere, even if they are living with other people, the problem can be especially acute in rural areas. When people live alone and are far from others, they can go for days or longer without talking to anyone or even seeing another person. The problem in one rural county in California got so bad that a program was developed to have volunteers visit isolated seniors.
What Can You Do to Relieve Loneliness?
If you or a loved one are feeling isolated or lonely, the first step is to realize how important it is to have regular social contact. Some people may think that it’s not that big a deal, but humans are social creatures. It’s in our genes. Unless you or your loved one are a true hermit, it’s not healthy to go for a long period of time without human interaction.
Find out what’s available in your community. Senior centers and community centers can be life savers for isolated seniors. If you are active, consider volunteering to help seniors.
Socializing enough to avoid the health risks of loneliness does not have to involve organized programs. Simply making one or two new friends in your neighborhood can make a big difference in the quality of your life.
If it’s not you, but a loved one who is a lonely senior, try to help your loved one connect with other people in their community. You can also encourage family members to visit your elderly relative more often. If your loved one is able to learn how to do video chatting online, that’s a great way to have “visits” when you aren’t able to be there in person.
The Problem of Abuse
Being lonely and isolated can also make elderly people more vulnerable. Criminals may try to take advantage of lonely seniors financially or in other ways. If you ever suspect that an elderly loved one is being mistreated or is the victim of fraud, an elder abuse lawyer at Garcia & Artigliere can help. Call us at (800) 281-8515 to find out more.