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How Loneliness Affects Senior Health

As a leading provider of Bridgewater live-in care for seniors, we can speak firsthand on the importance of close relationships and long-term companionship to senior health and wellness. Recent research has identified some of the serious health risks lonely seniors face, including the following.

Cognitive decline and risk of dementia

Neuroscientists have linked feelings of loneliness to poor cognitive performance and quicker cognitive decline. Furthermore, older people who described themselves as lonely are twice as likely to get dementia as their non-lonely peers.

Long-term illness

Loneliness and social isolation are major risk factors for depression, chronic lung disease, and impaired mobility. A lack of satisfying relationships damages a senior’s ability to bounce back after adversity and stress. Recently, researchers have identified loneliness as sending misleading hormone signals and rearranging our gene’s molecules.

High blood pressure

Research has shown loneliness can cause arteries to harden and significantly increase blood pressure. High blood pressure increases heart attack and stroke risk and undermines health in many other ways as well. Even seniors who claimed more modest feelings of loneliness saw blood pressure rise when compared to their socially content peers.

Increased risk of mortality

Researchers from the University of Chicago concluded loneliness can increase a senior’s risk for premature death by as much as 14%. It is such a significant health factor that it has twice the impact on premature death than obesity. And, emotional isolation has been ranked comparatively to smoking as a cause of premature death.

There are a number of things you can do to help your senior loved one be more socially active, including fitness or extended learning classes, joining a place of worship, connecting on social media, or scheduling regular phone calls. You might also consider an hourly caregiver in Bridgewater who can help with daily tasks and provide regular companionship.

To learn more about flexible care plans offered by Home Care Assistance, reach out to an experienced Care Manager at 908.450.9400 and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation. You can also click here to learn more about our commitment to senior care and request free information.