Isolation Can Lead to Increased Risk of Physical Health Challenges
Isolation for seniors can happen so slowly it’s easy to overlook. As we go into our senior years, our social circles start to shrink for a few reasons.
Retirement means no daily work connections. Children grow up, start families of their own, and sometimes move away. Friends and other loved ones start passing away. What were once effortless connections become visits that are few and far between. Additionally, if a senior has challenges with mobility or doesn’t feel comfortable driving anymore, the simple act of going places can be too much of a chore.
All of this can lead to feelings of loneliness because of social isolation. We now know that this can cause both mental and physical issues including rapid cognitive decline, heart disease, increased risk of stroke, and depression or anxiety.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), social isolation can lead to an increased risk of premature death from all causes—even more of a risk than smoking and obesity. It also increases the risk of:
Dementia by 50 percent
Heart disease by 29 percent
Stroke by 30 percent
Hospitalization by 68 percent
Emergency room visits by 57 percent
Additionally—and tragically—the CDC reports that social isolation leads to an increase in the likelihood of suicide.
Although these are startling numbers, they’re also not a foregone conclusion. For many folks, senior living communities are the ideal solution to the social isolation problem.