Health Related Risks of Isolation

SENIOR ISOLATION: A TOP PRIORITY FOR GOVERNMENT

Given our aging population and longer life expectancies, government agencies are placing increased emphasis on addressing the issue of social isolation among our elderly. The National Seniors Council has studied the harmful effects of this phenomenon and is gearing up to put forward solutions to mitigate the problem and facilitate prevention.

Read the federal government’s report on social isolation among seniors

 

DETRIMENTAL EFFECTS OF ISOLATION ON MENTAL AND PHYSICAL WELL-BEING

_MG_3394 - CopieThe impacts of social isolation are not limited to mental health: it takes a physical toll as well. In fact, according to the National Seniors Council, people who live alone are 4 to 5 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who live with others.

 

CHRONIC STRESS

Isolation-related stress weakens the immune system and causes inflammation, a condition that is associated with an array of disorders such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and arthritis.[1] It also affects the neuroendocrine system, which is responsible for controlling various body functions.[2] People who experience acute isolation possess a higher level of antibodies associated with increased pain, depression and chronic fatigue. Isolation even interferes with the parasympathetic nervous system, which can result in cardiovascular problems.[3]

Lonely people also live in a state of permanent hypervigilance, which results in sleep deprivation and an increased risk of morbidity and mortality.[4]

Just think of the havoc isolation can wreak on a senior whose health is already compromised.

Fortunately, at Little Brothers, TOGETHERNESS IS IN OUR DNA.

 

INCREASED RISK OF ELDER ABUSE

The National Seniors Council also stresses that social isolation is a risk factor for elder abuse, including theft, fraud and intimidation. It is therefore not uncommon for lonely seniors to be more mistrustful and reluctant to interact with others. The ensuing vicious circle is hard to break.

Backed by 55 years of experience and know-how, we strive to restore seniors’ confidence and free them permanently from the shackles of isolation.

 

HOW ISOLATION ALTERS THE BRAIN

Isolation can induce depression and loss of appetite. When combined, these symptoms can pave the way to mild dementia and hasten a decline in critical thinking and memory, thus precipitating the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.[5]

It has also been proven that isolation is as harmful to health as obesity, alcohol and tobacco.[6] Not only does it increase the risk of dementia and cognitive decline by 60%, it is also associated with a higher incidence of depression and suicide.[7]

Conversely, the regular presence of caring, compassionate people can have a positive influence on a senior’s quality of life.

On his book on brain development and longevity, renowned medical educator Bernard Sablonnière writes, “After age 65, neurons degenerate and die more quickly if they are idle. Learning new things, meditating, interacting with others and exercising are the best ways of keeping neurons active as long as we can.”[8]

 

Human contact is vital in warding off aging-related ailments.

TAKE ACTION NOW: Show our Elder Friends you care.

We are steadfast in our commitment to stay by our Elder Friends’ side throughout their remaining years. But to do this, we need your help.

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REFERENCES 

[1] Ohio State University. Loneliness, like chronic stress, taxes the immune system: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-01/osu-llc011713.php

[2] John T. Cacioppo, Stephanie Cacioppo, John P. Capitanio & Steven W. Cole. “The Neuroendocrinology of Social Isolation” Annu. Rev. Psychol., 2015, 66:9.1–9.35: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/531897cde4b0fa5080a9b19e/t/542082a5e4b07b5243b7766a/1411416741117/the-neuroendocrinology-of-social-isolation.pdf

[3] Dara Sorkin, Karen S. Rook, John L. Lu. “Loneliness, lack of emotional support, lack of companionship, and the likelihood of having a heart condition in an elderly sample” Ann Behav Med, 2002, Vol. 24, No. 4, pp. 290–298: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1207/S15324796ABM2404_05

[4] Louise C. Hawkley, John T. Cacioppo. “Loneliness Matters: A Theoretical and Empirical Review of Consequences and Mechanisms” Ann Behav Med, 2010, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 218–227: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874845/

[5] Robert S. Wilson, Kristin R. Krueger, Steven E. Arnold, Julie A. Schneider, Jeremiah F. Kelly, Lisa L. Barnes, Yuxiao Tang, David A. Bennett. “Loneliness and Risk of Alzheimer Disease” Arch Gen Psychiatry, 2007, Vol. 64, No. 2, pp. 234–240: http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=482179

[6] Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Timothy B. Smith, Mark Baker, Tyler Harris & David Stephenson. “Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality: A Meta-Analytic Review” Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2015, Vol. 10, pp. 227–237: http://pps.sagepub.com/content/10/2/227.full.pdf+html

[7] National Seniors Council. Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors (2013–2014): http://www.seniorscouncil.gc.ca/eng/research_publications/social_isolation/page00.shtml

[8] Bernard Sablonnière, Le cerveau: les clés de son développement et de sa longévité, 2013.

 

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