Social isolation, or to use the new buzz words, “social distancing” is an unexpected situation we have found ourselves in for several weeks. The coronavirus snuck into our world with very little warning and no time for us to prepare for the effect it would have on our lives.
The virus has resulted in a compulsory form of social isolation that has had global complications.
On the bright side, if we follow the guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and our local governments, this situation should begin to steadily resolve itself and allow us to get back to our normal lives. We are living with temporary social isolation effects that are difficult to deal with, but we know they will eventually be resolved.
But what about elderly people who feel the chill of social isolation and loneliness most of the time? Research has linked social isolation with a variety of physical and mental conditions.
The impact of social isolation on the health and wellbeing of people in their “golden years” is not only sad, but social isolation in older adults can lead to depression, anxiety and a loss of self- esteem.
Let’s look at some of the symptoms and effects of social isolation on mental health.
- Are you looking out your window wondering how you’ll spend your day?
- Are you sitting in front of the TV for hours watching the news?
- Have you gotten dressed today?
- Are you worried about your kids because you haven’t heard from them in days?
- Did you skip lunch because you didn’t want to eat another meal by yourself?
- Do you feel the effects of social isolation and depression are more than you can handle?
- Do you feel worthless, anxious, or hopeless?
So, exactly how does social isolation affect the brain?
Isolation can have serious and profound effects on the brain, especially in the elderly population. If an elderly person is isolated and alone he or she may be more prone to cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death if treatment is not implemented.
If an elderly person lives alone, it is important to interact with people. After all, we are social beings, and we need the company of others to assure our happiness, self-worth and general good health.
What can you do to avoid the effects of social isolation?
Social isolation and mental health issues go hand in hand. To avoid the problems caused by isolation, you should talk to your health care provider about steps you can take to alleviate any troublesome symptoms you are experiencing.
As we work our way back to normalcy in the current temporary isolation environment, you should keep yourself busy by pursuing a new hobby, planting some flowers, or calling an old friend.
You can try some new recipes, begin that memoir you’ve been meaning to write, or connect with your family and friends on social media.
The impact of social isolation on the elderly can be severe. If you know of someone who is alone without the support and company of family or friends, reach out to them and let them know you care. A short visit, a walk through the neighborhood, or an invitation for a movie or a lunch date can make all the difference in a lonely person’s life.
Home health care services can also be a huge asset to someone who is alone. A friendly face, a helping hand, and a warm smile can help an elderly person feel safe and relevant.
For more information about social isolation and our home health care services, click here.