Protecting Seniors From Isolation

Although we frequently think of seniors as living among family members or in a senior community or other shared housing arrangement, the likelihood of living alone rises as one ages, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Among women 65 to 74 years old, the probability of residing alone is 32 percent. This rate increases to 57 percent for those who are 85 or more years old. Among men, the rates are 13 percent and 29 percent respectively. And among those who are 100 years or older, approximately one-third reside alone at home.

Isolation of the elderly can lead to some upsetting health results, and can raise the risk of death. According to a review published in the Journal of Primary Prevention, social isolation has been shown to cause many harmful health problems in seniors, such as a heightened risk for all-cause mortality, dementia, re-hospitalization and more falls.

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As stated in the UChicago News, social isolation can interrupt sleep, raise blood pressure, cause a morning surge in the stress hormone, cortisol, change gene expression in immune cells, escalate depression and reduce a sense of well-being.

There are several measures friends and family can take to combat such feelings of social isolation in seniors. You can make sure that they have a sufficient amount of incontinence supplies and that they are tested for hearing and vision on a regular basis. You can also ask neighbors to help by visiting them to see if they are feeling OK. In addition, you can call or email them frequently if you are unable to see them in person.

Another preventative measure is to arrange for food to be delivered to them so as to prevent them from suffering from malnutrition. An organization such as Meals on Wheels can provide this service along with some social interaction. You can help seniors become more socially active by encouraging an enabling them to use hearing aids or walkers. Give rides to senior relatives whenever possible or arrange rides for them.

Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to discover senior centers, transportation services and other programs to help the elderly.

The elder law attorneys at Hook Law Center assist Virginia families with will preparation, trust & estate administration, guardianships and conservatorships, long-term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. To learn more, visit https://hooklawcenter.com/ or call 757-399-7506.


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