The Loneliness Factor

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Older Americans are blessed to have access to incredible medical services. The innovations and discoveries in the medical field have lengthened the lives of millions in this country but many older Americans will continue to suffer health related issues due to the “Loneliness Factor.”

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The Loneliness Factor

  1. 1. The Loneliness Factor By : Karen Everett Watson
  2. 2. Older Americans are blessed to have access to incrediblemedical services.The innovations and discoveries in the medical field havelengthened the lives of millions in this country but many olderAmericans will continue to suffer health related issues due tothe “Loneliness Factor.”
  3. 3. Many research studies conclude that isolation in elders hasa significant impact on their physical and mental health.• Isolation dramatically increases morbidity rates in the elderly, not to mention the devastation to their quality of life.
  4. 4. So, are your efforts to keep your older patients healthybeing thwarted by the “Loneliness Factor”?
  5. 5. Many factors contribute to elders isolating themselves.• As we age, many of us experience health related issues such as incontinence, vision impairments, and balance deficits.
  6. 6. • These physical limitations can cause many older people to isolate.• The embarrassment of incontinence or lack of balance can keep them from getting out and interacting with their friends and loved ones.• For those who have suffered a fall, they may choose to just stay confined to their homes because they fear falling again.
  7. 7. Diminished eyesight is followed by the inability to drive,which isolates many older adults, especially those who livein a rural setting.
  8. 8. Older people are more likely to suffer the loss of a spouseor of dear friends.• Depression from grief or illness will often make older people recluse – which can lead to multiple quality of life issues.• Some older women never learned to drive, and when their husbands die, they find themselves unable to attend social functions or normal activities that facilitate human interactions.• Isolated seniors, especially men, have a much higher rate of suicide.
  9. 9. Health professionals can help the isolated senior byrecognizing the symptoms.• Just knowing that certain health issues often lead to isolation can be the cue for doctors, and health care managers to inquire further into the patient’s activities.
  10. 10. Education can help many understand the consequences ofisolation. Isolated older people are much more likely to requireassisted living which is something our independent seniors fear.
  11. 11. Interventions for the isolated have been found effective.• Physical therapy can help those who fear falling.• Self-help classes can ease depression and help those through their grief while exposing them to positive social interactions.• Physicians can strongly encourage exercise classes for the positive health benefits, knowing the human connections can be just as beneficial.
  12. 12. Family connections remain the most cherished for olderadults, so if at all possible, doctors should encourage theirpatients involve their family members in their lives.
  13. 13. For patients that are basicallyhealthy, volunteering can be awonderful way to help otherswhile helping themselves.•Older people who volunteer are healthier physically and mentally.•Older volunteers are also less likely to suffer from dementia.
  14. 14. For the more frail patients, in-home care can often relieve the“Loneliness Factor.” Good caregivers, whether they be aprofessional or a family member, can be the best medicinepossible for a lonely shut-in.• And while many older people dismiss the idea of assisted living, it can be a life saver for many of them.• The social activities and physical exercise fostered at assisted livings can engage and enhance the lives of many.
  15. 15. Find Quality Care NowLocate a BrightStar Near You!

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