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Loneliness and Seniors

Loneliness and Seniors

Why Elders are Being Isolated from the Family?

isolated-from-the-family

In today’s fast-moving world, it is inevitable that a substantial children live away from their aging parents mainly on employment considerations. Current demands of lifestyle does not permit visiting and spending quality time with senior citizens of the family. Loneliness and subsequent isolation of elderly population specifically senior citizens is a growing health concern amongst families and healthcare community.

Loneliness is essentially an intrinsic yet unpleasant emotional response to isolation or lack of acquaintances. Loneliness typically includes anxiety and a lack of connectedness with humanity .Additionally, aging inhibits mobility of elders. This loneliness among the elderly may also be triggered by physical and geographic isolation, poor economic status, unexpected demise of life- partner, and lack of connectivity, related patient caretaker isolation and resistance to technology.

Consequences of Isolation

  • Negative Impact on Physical/ Mental Health
  • Increased rate of Mortality
  • Vulnerability to abuse
  • Decline of Cognitive Functions and enhanced risk of Dementia
  • Depression
  • Social Isolation subsequently causing Long Term Chronic Illness including high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis ,glaucoma and obesity
  • Causes Social Disconnect and triggers a Pessimistic Attitude about future
  • Makes senior citizens prone to long term dependency and care Contagious impact on fellow citizens
  • Results in sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy habits and unhygienic routines

Remedies for Isolation and Loneliness

The impact of loneliness on health and well-being of senior citizens has a profound impact on costs since they are the crucial customers of health care .Investing time and supporting organizations that offer companionship will help reduce healthcare costs and improve living standards.

Simple Methods

  • Increasing transportation facilities for addressing connectivity issues
  • Making cost effective adaptive technology available like hearing aids and walkers and ensuring periodic health check- ups
  • Teaching and encouraging technology usage through social media/mobile apps as Skype/Face Book/ What’sUp/LinkedIn to communicate with family and friends
  • Enrolment in senior centre activities including libraries ,reading rooms, prayer meetings
  • Daily exercise regimes for positive body image, physical fitness and combating depression
  • Giving extra emotional support to both senior citizens and caretakers
  • Regular communication through phone calls and notifying neighbours
  • Pursuing hobbies thereby promoting a sense of purpose
  • Adoption of pets which triggers a family bonding
  • Periodic scheduled visits from friends/family
  • Social outings/Family Get-Togethers.

Community Efforts

Caregiver For Seniors

Many social agencies provide Home Healthcare Services through caregivers. Caregivers are essentially paid personal or health care aides, who assist people needing support due surgery, chronic diseases, injury, mental or physical disability, fragility and age. Their duties include

  • Taking care of healthcare needs of senior citizens as engaging in physical and mental exercises, providing medication reminders, escorting on hospital/physician visits, maintaining and follow-ups of diet-charts
  • Running house hold errands like preparing meals and feeding, making beds /changing linens, cleaning activities, assisting in bathing/dressing/grooming
  • Providing physical escorting to events and providing companionship through constructive engagement

Assisted Living (AL) Facility

This new concept of ‘AL for aging gracefully’ is essentially a paradigm shift from medically connoted nursing homes It is a socially- rewarding, self-reliable route for connecting senior citizens to the future .AL revolves on providing support systems in a homelike atmosphere for assisting daily activities of senior citizens along with sufficient touch points to enable social engagement simultaneously. AL residents have numerous benefits given by skilled staff like 24/7 food with individual preferences, assistance in daily routines, healthcare support and transportation.

Conclusion

Aging is an inevitable aspect of humanity. Yet, it may be endured gracefully with community support so that seniors lead a pragmatic autonomous life in conductive environment. After all, who doesn’t want to live with dignity?

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Loneliness and Seniors

Care giving is Hard! Isolation Can Make It Unbearable

care-giving-is-hard

A ‘caregiver’ which is sometimes referred to as a ‘carer’ is an unpaid or a paid member who takes the primary responsibility of an individual’s social network by providing assistance to those who are mentally or physically disabled, chronically ill, injured or an elderly family member. ‘Care giving‘ is one of the common terms which is used to attend to the needs of old people, disabled and those with mental disorders. Some of the primary duties and responsibilities of a caregiver are discussed below:

  • Assisting an individual who is suffering from a chronic illness or a disease.
  • Basic food preparation including preparing meals, shopping, housekeeping and laundry.
  • General health care such as managing medications and appointment reminders.
  • Paying the monthly bills such as mobile and electricity bills etc,.
  • Mobility assistance such as bathing and grooming.
  • Constant health monitoring like tracking any changes in an individual’s health, recording and reporting any differences.
  • Providing emotional support in matters relating to personal and health-related.

Role as a Care giver

Care giving is a complicated task despite the relationship between a caregiver and an individual. The activity gets harder as the recipients get older. More than half of the care givers are of the opinion that their role as a care giver takes a toll on their job as well as their family lives. It is reported that almost every care givers have undergone anxiety and irritability during their role as a care giver. Reports suggest that about 70% of family care givers are facing clinical symptoms of depression which is caused due to feelings of isolation and loneliness associated with the care giving experience.

Causes of Care giver isolation and loneliness

Most of the care givers feel a sense of isolation and loneliness due to withdrawal from previous habits and life styles. Some care givers find themselves trapped at home, being neglected by their friends and family members and lacking support from other care givers who are facing a similar situation. This could lead to withdrawal from various social activities and relationships that they had previously indulged in.

Meanwhile, there are few care givers who are literally facing isolation. Like for example, a spouse assisting their partner round-the-clock may feel unable to leave their care recipient. As a result, their time for leisure activities and personal rejuvenation is reduced to a great extent since they concentrate only on their care recipient. They are engaged in various activities like managing medications, frequent doctor visits and weekly runs to grocery store.

Aftermath of Caregiver isolation

A care giver may face physical side effects as a result of onset of depression. It could lead to complications like weight gain, increase in blood pressure caused by stress, diabetes, stroke and premature death.

Isolation and loneliness is a serious issue faced by most of the care givers to certain degree during their role as a care giver. However, they need not hesitate to find more support during their journey.

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