Loneliness and social isolation are common issues for aging family members. They can be harder to manage if your elderly family member’s health is declining in other ways, too. Understanding the differences between loneliness and isolation can help you to find possible answers to the problem so that your senior can recover.
Loneliness is a distressed state. It’s the despairing feeling of being alone or of being separated from people that your senior loves. Loneliness can very quickly lead to depression because it’s already a feeling of discomfort that can continue to worsen over time. Your senior can be around other people and still feel lonely. Connecting virtually with people she loves can help, but some people who are suffering from loneliness don’t find that to be enough.
Social Isolation Defined
Social isolation can have some elements of loneliness, but at its heart it’s about not having people with which to interact. Some seniors choose to socially isolate because of hearing and vision changes or other health changes that they feel are embarrassing. The physical distancing of the coronavirus pandemic is another example of a situation that has created social isolation. Some people find that situation to be lonely, while others are only mildly impacted.
There Are Risks to Both
Both social isolation and loneliness can lead to health issues. Your senior’s blood pressure may rise, she may gain weight, and she may be more anxious than usual. In severe cases, your elderly family member might even experience cognitive declines. It’s important to understand how these emotional issues can have very real impacts on your senior’s physical health.
What Can You Do?
Often these physical changes are because your senior is no longer doing things that help her to stay healthy. She may not have the drive to exercise, her sleep may be disrupted, and she may be eating for comfort rather than for nutritive value. If you’re not able to visit with your senior, you may worry that there’s nothing that you can do. Hiring elderly care providers to check in with her can help quite a bit. They can offer companionship and help to ensure that she’s taking care of herself.
It’s not easy to be dealing with loneliness, social isolation, and depression. These are serious concerns and if they don’t get better with the things your senior is able to try on her own, she needs to talk with her doctor about what other options are available.
If you or an aging loved one is considering elderly care in St. Louis Park, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.