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
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.
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.
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.
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?