When we’re younger, we have friends to surround us. Whether they’re friends from college, work, or hobbies, they’re around for talking, going to parties, and all those events that make life special. However, once we get older, we start to lose our friends. The loss of dear friends and acquaintances is an invisible, painful struggle for many older adults. While family can fill many holes, grief and loneliness can profoundly affect adults who have had to say goodbye to their best friends. While some older adults push through the loneliness to make new friends, many of them succumb and become very isolated. Isolation not only ruins emotional wellbeing, it also damages physical wellbeing.
The Physical Effects of Loneliness and Isolation
A study published in BMJ Journals found that “deficiencies in social relationships are associated with an increased risk of developing CHD (Cognitive Heart Defect) and stroke.” What they’re saying is that loneliness and isolation literally hurt the body, shortening the life span. Now, there are people who enjoy being alone for long periods of time. However, older adults suffering from grief should generally not be alone, even if they want to be. This is because the risk of stroke and heart trouble aren’t the only issues associated with isolation. Lonely older adults usually suffer from the following as well:
- Increased levels of cortisol (an unhealthy stress hormone)
- Less restful sleep
- Higher rates of depression
- Higher blood pressure
- Damaged self-esteem
- No sense of living a meaningful life
While these effects may not be unhealthy in the short term, give it a few years, and you’ll find the body has a lot of trouble living with them. This slow erosion of wellbeing is dangerous and unnecessary. There are things that can be done to turn the physical and emotional tides and make life a thriving experience rather than a miserable survival. At Gulf Shore Private Home Care, we understand that circumstances out of people’s control can leave them lonely. However, that doesn’t mean nothing can be done!
The Essential Benefits of Socialization
Getting old is difficult, and all too often, older adults are left to slump into depression when they should really be taking deliberate steps to take care of themselves. Multiple studies agree that maintaining connections to peers and taking the time to participate in group activities have a profound effect on the health of seniors. We encourage young children to participate and connect; older adults often need the same encouragement and opportunities for socialization. Social older adults generally enjoy the following benefits:
Boosted confidence and self-esteem
Social connections renew interests, passions, and enjoyment of life. When people are isolated for too long, they usually develop crippling self-esteem issues and anxiety because they no longer feel confident socializing. Even though circumstances can be rough, getting to the point where stepping out your door or carrying on a conversation with someone beyond family is too much is not acceptable. At Gulf Shore Private Home Care, we make a point to help our clients practice socialization if they aren’t doing it themselves.
Greater purpose and belonging
When you join people who share your interests, life becomes more fun. You actually have things to look forward to. These can be activities like working, Sharing activities with others who have the same interests makes people feel like they have a place to belong rather than just drifting through life. volunteering, or simply anticipating activities that make you happy. We especially love work and volunteering, because it shows people that they are needed and helpful no matter how old they are.
Better mental and physical health
Staying connected keeps the mind sharp and ensures the heart feels a sense of belonging. This makes it easier to cope with loss, which is an important skill for this time of life. When you’re thriving mentally, your body releases hormones that reinforce your health rather than break it down. As a result, you don’t get sick as often and have an easier time fighting off diseases, including dementia. You also will be more active, which benefits your health and confidence. It may be easy to spiral down, but picking up positive momentum is more possible than most people think. We are here to make it even easier!]
Great Options for Socialization
- Get out and about! Join a senior center, go to a movie, try new restaurants, pick up a new hobby, play cards, visit your family.
- Learn something new! You’re never too old to take a class on cooking, computers, or art. If classes aren’t your style, try a book club. You can even try a new instrument!
- Contribute to your community! The opportunities here are endless and varied enough that you can find something to suit your activity level. You can volunteer at a library, hospital, school, or animal shelter. You can serve meals to the homeless. You can help mail packages to soldiers overseas. You can join a committee at your place of worship. Just make sure you enjoy it!
At Gulf Shore Private Homecare, we value the relationship of health to socialization and work very hard to provide our clients with opportunities to socialize and thrive. We are medical experts who can help you as companions, personal care providers, and skilled nurses, because we are passionate about making life better. We understand how important your home is to your comfort and wellbeing, and that is why we come to you. Contact us for private home care in Naples today!