Combatting Senior Loneliness: Connectedness and Health Effects

Staying connected with friends & family and maintaining a thriving social life are key to good health – it can be too easy for older adults to feel cut off from friends & family and to feel isolated though. For some seniors, they might find it harder to see and keep up with loved ones. 

This does not need to be the case! Thrive knows that being social is integral to optimal health and happiness. We welcome our residents to have visitors, and encourage their friends and families to stop by for visits, join in our activities, and maybe even stay for a meal!

Although, old friends shouldn’t be forgotten and can still be an active part of your life at Thrive – living at a Thrive community also means ample opportunities for making new friends! 

Even seniors who are especially outgoing and social should be wary of the effects of isolation and the issue of loneliness among older adults. Loneliness can be hard on your health, but working to stay connected & building new relationships, being involved in groups, and staying social can provide many benefits to health and happiness.

Understanding the health effects of loneliness

Even if you’re not living alone or have relatives, friends and neighbors who you see regularly, it’s still possible to feel lonely. Loneliness is the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact; social isolation, however, refers to a lack of social connections. Loneliness and social isolation in older adults is a matter of public health concern because it affects so many older adults in the U.S. Nearly one-fourth of adults 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Loneliness can cause high blood pressure, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and augment the risk of heart disease & stroke. Social isolation is also tied to memory issues, as it can increase the risk for developing dementia and can be associated with higher rates of depression & anxiety, according to the CDC. Lonely older adults might also experience a more rapid cognitive decline compared to those with fuller and satisfying social connections.

What can be done to combat loneliness?

It’s clear that loneliness and social isolation can cause real health problems, so the issue of loneliness should be taken seriously. For many older adults, becoming part of a community of other active adults – like moving to a senior living community – can provide a perfect solution. If being lonely detracts from your health and quality of life, it makes sense that being socially connected will improve your health and happiness.

Being socially active doesn’t have to mean attending lots of parties or hosting big gatherings for friends. Staying social can mean something as simple as making a phone call or using FaceTime, Zoom, or similar programs to be able to virtually connect with and see friends & family. Regular face-to-face social interaction may be the best form of interacting, but with factors like the COVID pandemic or friends & family living at long distances, sometimes virtual meet-ups are the best option.

Thrive designs the spaces in their senior living communities to be convenient for being social and communal. This means that we love when our residents use these community spaces to gather and get to know one another better! Meeting for lunch or for coffee or tea no longer means having to travel to see a friend, just walk out your door to the café or courtyard!

While it can take some extra encouragement sometimes to get loved ones and residents involved socially, group activities and events at Thrive communities abound. Our team members are dedicated to finding activities that can include everyone – all the while being mindful of individuals’ abilities. Being part of a group can foster connections and social well-being, with results and benefits that keep residents thriving! 

Making connections and making a difference

In terms of activities and events, Thrive’s team members like to take things a step further than putting on the same old events and activities you find at other senior living communities! Our team works to really get to know the residents (at Thrive, we call this deep-knowing) – and events can be tailored to the interests of a particular person or group of residents. This way, there’s even more interest in joining events and getting involved. We also believe that barriers like hearing loss, memory issues, and other health issues shouldn’t prevent our residents from joining in!

It’s important to remember that loneliness shouldn’t be brushed aside as just a normal consequence of aging. Everyone, regardless of age or condition, should get to experience the simple pleasures that come from staying involved socially. 

At Thrive, we build communities where adults can lead meaningful lives filled with new relationships and new friends. When residents get involved with their community – that helps them to truly feel at home. We work to offer opportunities for involvement for every one of our residents. Staying social means staying healthy, and that’s something that we don’t want our residents or their families to forget.

If you have any questions about Thrive’s communities or want to know more about how we keep residents connected, contact a Thrive Senior Living community near you today.

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