Pin It Feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to serious consequences for senior health.
Putnam released the book "Bowling Alone," in which he surveyed the declining participation in organizational groups in the United States. Rather than joining bowling leagues, the title suggests that we have refuted John Donne and become individual islands.
|20 Facts about Senior Isolation That Will Stun You||This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. The elderly population is large in general and growing due to advancement of health care education.|
|Sociability and old age||But loneliness that becomes persistent causes accelerated aging with multiple health consequences, including conditions that lead to death. Studies, including one published in March by Brigham Young University researcherssuggest that loneliness, isolation and living alone can be as threatening to health as cigarettes, excess alcohol and obesity.|
These days, we may count a high number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers, but when it comes down to it, we have no one with whom we can go bowling. Some people crave their alone time, but more often than we may like to admit, we get lonely.
According to researcher John Cacioppo at the University of Chicago, 20 percent of all people are unhappy because of social isolation at any given moment [source: For decades now, researchers have tracked the effects of loneliness and isolation on our physical health.
One study with mice subjects found that isolation could increase cancerous tumor growth [source: University of Chicago Medical Center ].
Another study found that isolation is a risk factor for disease on par with smoking and obesity [source: Loneliness often leads to stresswhich is a risk factor for many conditions in its own right.
Researchers have had subjects estimate room temperatures after recalling a time that they were snubbed or socially excluded, and the subjects reported colder temperatures than participants that were asked to remember times with friends, thus suggesting that we can actually feel social chills [source: Association for Psychological Science ].
In recent years, Cacioppo has turned his attention to the minds of the socially isolated, and his team has found that the brains of lonely people react differently than those with strong social networks. The University of Chicago researchers showed lonely and non-lonely subjects photographs of people in both pleasant settings and unpleasant settings.
When viewing the pleasant pictures, non-lonely subjects showed much more activity in a section of the brain known as the ventral striatum than the lonely subjects.
The ventral striatum plays an important role in learning. The lonely subjects displayed far less activity in this region while viewing pleasant pictures, and they also had less brain activity when shown the unpleasant pictures. When non-lonely subjects viewed the unpleasant pictures, they demonstrated activity in the temporoparietal junction, an area of the brain associated with empathy; the non-lonely subjects had a lesser response [source: University of Chicago ].
Is loneliness a result of not being able to see the rewards right in front of you? While researchers suss out such questions, the study and others like it do have some immediate implications in the field of mental health.
InUniversity of Michigan researchers evaluated the relationship between social isolation and mental functioning. They conducted a study that measured memory and intellectual performance in groups that had just spent 10 minutes socializing as well as groups that spent 10 minutes reading and completing crossword puzzles.
The groups that spent their time interacting with others performed just as well as the groups that were essentially warming up their brains [source: University of Michigan ].The Effects of Loneliness and Isolation on the Elderly Cameron Bailey June 25, Seniors' Health Leave a Comment The current drive to help older people live at home for longer may be creating higher levels of isolation and loneliness for them.
Even perceived social isolation — the feeling that you are lonely — is a struggle for many older people. Fortunately, the past couple of decades have seen increasing research into the risks, causes, and prevention of loneliness in seniors.
Another study found that isolation is a risk factor for disease on par with smoking and obesity [source: Goleman].
Loneliness often leads to stress, which is a risk factor for many conditions in its own right. Effects of isolation: One of the greatest effects of isolation in the elderly is loneliness and a lot of our older people are suffering from loneliness these days.
Loneliness is a major problem that affects older people. The Physiological Effects of Loneliness For the older person living alone, an independent-living or assisted-living apartment also provides opportunities for new relationships, for shared meals, for group activities.
In actuality, lessening the risk of loneliness and isolation for older adults today is one of the best ways to prepare. Social isolation is a major risk factor for functional difficulties in older persons. Loss of important relationships can lead to feelings of emptiness and depression.
“Persons involved with a positive relationship tend to be less affected by everyday problems and to have a greater sense of control and independence.