The Health Effects of Isolation and Loneliness for Seniors
Social isolation occurs when an individual lacks connection and exchange with other people. Isolation is not the same as feeling lonely. When isolated and alone, the risks of they can cause falls, added chronic diseases, and depression. Isolation intensifies loneliness. A person socially withdraws by avoiding people and activities avoid contact with family and friends.
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging believes older adults who describe themselves as lonely have a 59 percent greater risk of functional decline and a 45 percent increased risk of death. Our adult population living alone reduces into two categories: One, 29 percent of people age 65-plus live alone, and twice as many women live alone as men. And, two, close to 50 percent of older women age 75-plus live alone.
The federally funded agency says individuals need social connection to thrive and research shows that the negative health consequences of prolonged isolation and loneliness may be especially harmful for older adults.
It's the reason that the national agency created the "Combat Isolation Program." The series will focus on creating awareness, teaching individuals how to maintain and strengthen ties to family and friends and expanding social circles and to getting involved in the community.
The factors that put older adults at greater risk:
- Living alone
- Mobility or sensory impairment*
- Major life transitions or losses*
- Low income or limited financial resources
- Being a caregiver for someone with a serious condition
- Psychological or cognitive challenges
- Inadequate social support
- Rural, unsafe and inaccessible neighborhood
- Transportation access challenges
- Language barriers
- Age, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation and gender identity barriers
Health effects of isolation and loneliness
- Chronic conditions
- Weakened immune system
- Depression and anxiety
- Higher use of emergency services
I head up the elder orphan Facebook group and hear complaints from members who feel lonely when aging and living alone and I know it's a significant issue. It's important for individuals to recognize the signs that tell them when isolation is a grave concern.
- Do you leave the house less frequently?
- Do you experience a loss or gain in weight?
- Has your eating habits changed?
- Do you feel depressed and withdrawn?
- Do you refuse company?
- Have friends or family approached you saying they're concerned?
- Has your cognitive ability declined and are you having sleep disturbances and persistent insomnia, which are reliable indicators of social isolation?
Some people do not socialize as a form of self-preservation after a traumatic event. Or they have not had positive life experiences. Feelings of loneliness are a tremendous challenge for older people, and several ways to detect isolation are verbal outpouring; prolonged holding of hand/arms; body language, and a defeated demeanor.
Cyborgs Are the Future for Advisors
Becoming cyborgs is the way to go for financial advisers…blending robotics and humans into one organism.
You see, I am convinced that robo-advice models will succeed and prosper.
I am also convinced that human advisers will succeed and prosper.
I am further convinced that some of each will fail entirely and die, but in Darwinian fashion the most adaptable will survive and prosper. Smart financial advisers will work out how to become cyborgs and build an offering which is a blend of human and machine – or at least their practice will.
Despite the fear-mongering when it comes to robo’s the reality is that there are many great arguments for automated transaction systems, or robotic product delivery. Cost reduction for the consumer, cost reduction for the practitioner….efficiency, speed, convenience for all….elimination of the frustrating and time consuming service model supplied by the industry to low value transactional customers….and let’s be bluntly honest: some people DO just need a product solution at some stages of their life, and DO NOT need holistic advice at some points.
Robo-advice makes sense commercially, and it can meet a need in life stages planning for many consumers. It also happens to appeal to a segment of society who are happy to make their own decisions and transact from the comfort of their pyjamas during the ads in their evening television program, and who are unlikely to engage in full advice. It is worth remembering that this last type of consumer segment is growing at the expense of the traditional intermediated product delivery systems of distribution.
However, machines do not “manage” relationships and behaviour – humans manage humans. Humans tend to rebel against the concept (or slightest inference actually) that they are being manipulated or are at the mercy of computers and machines. Machines and automated systems exist for our convenience, don’t they? Nobody wants a “SkyNet”.
……So the human adviser remains in the equation……
When we strip out all the industry jargon and hyperbole the primary function of a financial adviser is to manage clients behaviour. We don’t really manage their money – other people do the actual money management. We don’t supply products….we source them from a supplier. What we do is manage their behaviour and expectations. We coach them. Machines don’t do that yet….and when they are able to (and they will be), most consumers will shy away from being managed by a machine.
But we cannot escape those arguments supporting robo-offerings as they make too much sense for clients and for us. In fact I suspect robo-advice will be a very good thing for smart adviser practices.
Believe it or not, I believe robo-offerings can help us get clients.
For most consumers there is a period early in life when their financial advice needs are fairly basic, and also there is a period later in life where all the planning has been done and consumers are moving into “drawdown” territory. In between those times, life gets somewhat busier and complexity increases substantially.
Advice delivered by humans should be focussed upon the complexity phase. Apart from the fact that this is the period of a consumers life when there are the most variables to consider in their planning needs, it is also the phase where behaviour management is a distinct help to the achievement of the consumers goals and objectives. Generally people will only do uncomfortable or new things if they have a high degree of trust and confidence in the person guiding them to do so, and establishing that level of trust – or the bond between two people – is where robo-offerings will struggle to compete.
However, when it comes to identifying a fairly simple need which has a product solution then robo’s will certainly be able to deliver a solution more cost effectively and faster than the human adviser can, who is bound by increasing complexity of their own called “compliance” every time they have to interact with another human being.
The smart adviser will identify those areas of their clients lives and those product solutions which work well for those times and find a transactional solution for their clients to access. They will build that transactional, no-advice, solution into the service offering that their practice puts into the market. In other words they will embrace and incorporate robo-offerings into their business model.
Not just because consumers want them or need them, and not just because it is cost effective to do so. Not even because we’d like to have a commercial revenue stream which sidesteps the more time-consuming (and therefore labour intensive and expensive) compliance requirements.
The reason smart advisers will do it is because it will help gather the next generation of clients for the firm before the complexity triggers drive them to seek advice elsewhere.
The robo-advice solution caters to those who have an identifiable need for financial services of one sort or another, but who do not yet need holistic bespoke planning. It is an entry point for consumers to become customers of the firm, and for the firm to then work upon converting those transactional customers into advised clients for the future.
Robotics are a part of our world and our future. We need to figure out how to make them a part of our business too, but in such a way that our business uses the robo’s, rather than being used by them. Humans and robo’s integrated into the same service business in order to deliver they type of solutions and assistance that consumers and customers and clients want at different stages of their life.
The future for the financial advisory practice is cyborgs.
- 1 of 883