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- Do you feel depressed and withdrawn?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.
Choose a Client Portal as Wisely as Choosing Your Dog
People tell me that dogs are a sign of how the dog owner feels about him or herself and what they value. I agree.
The 6'9" man with the tiny dog tells me that he values love, being cuddled and protected. The scruffy 5'9" man with the two greyhounds tells me he values the feeling of being stately and proper. And the woman with the fancy white poodle values feeling sharp and noticed.
A consumer portal is no different.
The portal and contents send a clear message on what the business values the most and wants its clients to value. If the portal showcases investment performance, the advisory firm is telling the client that investment performance matters the most.
If the portal accentuates a person's net worth or probability of reaching their financial goals (2nd home, college, retirement), the advisor is telling the client to care most about achieving their goals and watching their bottom line.
So before your business chooses a consumer portal, think about the message you want to send to the public and clients. It is no different than the message that your dog is publicly sharing about you. What you choose tells others what you value. And just like a dog, you can't return the portal so easily. So choose wisely.
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