[Updated: July 5, 2023 | Published: June 22, 2023]
Are you an older adult facing feelings of loneliness and social isolation? Or are you concerned about a loved one who seems isolated? You’re not alone!
A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine showed that over a third of adults 45 and older feel lonely. And nearly a quarter of those aged 65 and older are socially isolated.
Loneliness and social isolation can hit hard, especially for seniors. Many older adults face challenges due to living alone, the loss of loved ones, chronic illness and hearing loss.
Still, there are steps you or a loved one can take to build connections and enjoy a more vibrant life. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the risks of social isolation and dive into five effective ways you can combat loneliness and thrive.
U.S. Surgeon General: Loneliness is an Epidemic
During the pandemic, many people of all ages felt the sting of loneliness. United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently released a Surgeon General Advisory calling attention to the public health crisis of loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection in our country.
“Given the significant health consequences of loneliness and isolation, we must prioritize building social connection the same way we have prioritized other critical public health issues such as tobacco, obesity, and substance use disorders,” Murthy wrote.
“Together, we can build a country that’s healthier, more resilient, less lonely, and more connected.”
Recent studies have painted a grim picture of how loneliness can affect health. According to the CDC, seniors with fewer social connections have a 29 percent higher risk of heart disease, a 32 percent higher risk of stroke, and a 50 percent higher risk of dementia. What’s more, loneliness can increase the likelihood of premature death by over 60 percent.
And it’s not just physical health that’s at stake. Loneliness can double the risk of depression. It also increases the risks of anxiety and suicide.
According to the National Institutes of Health, you’re more likely to be affected if you:
- Live alone or can’t leave your home
- Feel alone or disconnected from others
- Recently had a major change or loss, such as retiring from a job you loved or losing a spouse
- Provide care to your spouse, partner or another loved one
- Feel you no longer have a purpose in life
Given the risks, it makes sense to take steps now to strengthen your connections and develop new avenues for connecting with others.
Stay Connected to Combat Loneliness and Social Isolation
Get involved in activities
Learning doesn’t have an age limit. You can enroll in educational programs, book clubs, or art classes.
Engaging the mind is essential for mental health and helps stave off cognitive decline. Picking up a new hobby can provide a sense of accomplishment and opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals.
2. Get Moving!
Physical activity nourishes the body and spirit. Consider joining a local walking club, attending yoga classes, taking up strength training or getting your hands dirty with light gardening.
Engagement in activities like these promotes wellness and also provides opportunities to make new friends.
3. Volunteer or Become a Mentor
As a senior, you have an invaluable treasure – experience.
Sharing your life experience by becoming a mentor can also be immensely rewarding. Passing on knowledge and experience to others can help you re-engage with a former profession and enhance your self-esteem.
You can also get a deep sense of fulfillment by giving! Try volunteering at local community centers, libraries or non-profits to make a difference and broaden your social circle.
4. Embrace Technology to Stay Connected
Twenty-first-century technology has put a world of connections into the palm of our hands. You can use video calls, social media, and other communication apps to stay connected with family and friends.
You can even attend a grandchild’s school play or celebrate a birthday virtually if attending in person isn’t convenient.
5. Invest in social Relationships
Cherish the relationships you have, and be open to making new friends. Try to strengthen your connections by reaching out – either in person or via phone or video. And be on the lookout for like-minded peers when engaging in your favorite activities.
Many seniors also take comfort in the companionship of pets, which provide unconditional love and companionship. Studies show that interacting with animals can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction, and increase physical activity.
These five strategies can go a long way toward dealing with loneliness and social isolation, but sometimes they’re not enough. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or a counselor if you are feeling distressed from feeling isolated or alone.
Thriving Together: the Benefits of Senior Living Communities
Senior living communities are designed to help older adults achieve more meaningful and fulfilling lives. Communities like Friendship Village of Dublin offer a warm, friendly atmosphere where you can enjoy the companionship of like-minded peers.
In fact, when we ask Residents about what makes life so special at Friendship Village of Dublin, companionship is at the top of the list.
“I have been able to make good friends who share my interests in a wide variety of activities,” says Resident Jean F. “There is always someone to share conversation with.”
But that’s not all! Maintenance-free living frees up the time you used to spend on cooking, cleaning, cutting grass and shoveling snow to focus on living life to the fullest.
Dining on chef-prepared meals one of four restaurant-quality venues offers plenty of opportunities to converse and connect. You can also strengthen friendships in your choice of over 100 planned activities each month on our scenic campus along the Scioto River, in the local Dublin community, Columbus and beyond. And our Lifelong Learning programs offer even more opportunities to connect while keeping your mind sharp.
Discover Life in Perfect Balance at Friendship Village of Dublin
We invite you to discover how our premier senior living community offers life in perfect balance through nine dimensions of wellness that make up The Village Way.
Plus, all our independent living apartments, flats and Villas come with the comfort of LifeCare, a prepaid long-term care plan that covers you for life. This all-in-one package offers flexible services, amenities and access to future healthcare, giving you more freedom to enjoy your active, independent lifestyle.
If needed, LifeCare guaranteed access to higher levels of care, including Waterford Place Assisted Living, Alderwood Health & Rehab and Rowan House Memory Care, at a predictable cost.
If you can see yourself enjoying a resort-style lifestyle with luxe amenities, abundant activities and compatible companions, please schedule a time to visit us today.
To learn more, please call 614.426.0334 today, or schedule a visit using the link below. We look forward to welcoming you to our premier senior living community!