Mental Health & the Elderly: The Effects of Social Isolation on the Senior Population

Studies show that one out of every four people over the age of 65 is considered socially isolated, and with current regulations on social distancing, that number is on the rise. The effects of social isolation in the elderly can be easily overlooked.

With that being said, it could be happening to someone you care about right now. Keep reading to understand the effects of isolation and loneliness in seniors.

Mental Health Issues in Seniors

One of the foremost issues of social isolation in the elderly is a lack of care for mental health issues. Approximately 15% of seniors over age 60 suffer from some sort of mental health issue. When isolation occurs these issues can flare-up or become worse rapidly.

Without getting proper care, seniors can be in danger of hurting themselves or others. This is especially true for seniors with new or worsening Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Social isolation can still occur even if a senior is living in a home that treats mental health issues.

Elder abuse can present itself in many ways, such as caregivers socially isolating patients. It is important to understand the warning signs to prevent these issues from happening.

Loneliness in Seniors

Even if a senior is of sound mental health we cannot overlook the physical and mental strain that loneliness can have on the elderly. Lonely seniors with heart failure are 4 times more likely to die than those who have proper socialization. Additionally, social isolation can increase a senior’s chances of premature death, anxiety, depression, and more.

The pandemic has currently made it incredibly difficult for seniors to interact with their loved ones and even with their caregivers. With that being said, there are emerging programs that can help seniors to communicate virtually to combat loneliness.

Depression in Seniors

The pandemic has caused a rise in depression and anxiety across all age groups and demographics, however, the social isolation aspect has caused a spike in depression in seniors especially. Counseling services for seniors are a great option for seniors who are experiencing depression caused by social isolation.

Signs of depression might present in the following ways:

  • Not eating or drinking
  • Sleeping longer than usual
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Restlessness and irritability

These are just a few of the signs that a senior could be suffering from depression. The trouble is, if a senior is socially isolated these symptoms could go unnoticed and treatment might not happen.

The Effects of Social Isolation in Seniors

These are the major effects of social isolation in seniors. We must continue to check up on our elderly and maintain relationships even amidst the current situation. These effects can be life-threatening, however, with proper care they can be prevented.

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