Elderly loneliness may have an effect similar to chronic stress on their brains. It can also affect your endocrine and immune systems, making older people more susceptible to disease.
Loneliness is ubiquitous in the elderly, and they are usually the population group most affected by it. Unfortunately, many people in Western culture turn their backs on them – out of fear. Most likely because many of us don’t want to face fate ahead.
In moments of sadness, anger, or disappointment, some people prefer to withdraw into isolation. When they feel better again, the need for other people’s company also returns. They then need again the emotional support of all those who, in one way or another, can motivate them to move on.
Few people choose to stay alone. This is because there is an undeniable human need to be surrounded by people and important to someone.
Research has shown that loneliness is a serious health problem and leads to feelings of worthlessness, which in turn can lead to premature death. In addition, loneliness has been linked to deteriorating mental health and cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and dementia.
How does loneliness affect the elderly?
It is estimated that 10% of older adults are lonely. And that loneliness affects their physical and emotional health. In addition, 70% of these people suffer from a serious mental and physical health problem that is directly related to this loneliness.
Basically, loneliness affects brain health in the same way as chronic stress. Both trigger a negative response from the endocrine system and the immune system. As a result, those affected become weakened and this makes them more prone to developing various diseases.
Diseases of the elderly caused by loneliness
According to research, high blood pressure, diabetes, repeated infections, anxiety disorders, and depression are the most common illnesses caused by loneliness.
However, the effects on the elderly are much more direct and negative. This is due to their decreasing physical resilience, the body’s ability to adapt to and withstand adverse circumstances. In addition, cell repair mechanisms decrease due to the aging process.
What is most worrying is that the problem of loneliness in the elderly is growing. Hence, it will become a global health problem in just a few years.
According to experts in the field, solving this issue can lead to numerous health benefits for the elderly. In fact , psychologists believe that an active social life is the main factor in ensuring a good quality of life.
Society for the Elderly
David McCullough, president of the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service Organization , which works with more than 40,000 volunteers in the UK to keep the elderly company, notes that loneliness and the health consequences are an increasing cause to give concern.
McCullough and his volunteers support the homeless as best they can. Especially older people who live in loneliness and are already affected by many difficulties such as loss of mobility, dementia and mental problems.
Figures published in the UK show that a large proportion of the elderly population feels either “lonely” or “very lonely”, especially those over 65 years of age.
This is why the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service Organization works to empower these people:
- to nourish,
- to offer them protection and
- To find company for them.
For those who are now completely alone for a variety of reasons, daily social contact of any kind can help reduce the effects of loneliness. As you can see, this can help improve their health.
Is there a solution?
The type of social activities an elderly person has engaged in during their lifetime is the deciding factor when they are all alone. Therefore , it is more difficult to support and treat people who have always had problems socializing and whose lives have been marked by rejection, confusion or fear.
However, they can resolve any situation that they have not yet been able to resolve with the help of psychological intervention and individual treatment.
Additionally, support groups, friend support, groups for the elderly, and simply talking to someone during the day can all help overcome loneliness and improve people’s health in many ways.
Final thoughts on the loneliness of the elderly
In summary, it can be said that adults in developed countries can often be lonely. Therefore , we as a society need to take action to keep them company and make them feel that they are still an important part of the community. After all, they gave us everything, cared for us, worked for us and sacrificed everything for us.
Each and every one of us has a moral obligation never to let them down. We might find ourselves in the same situation one day and then we would wish others would do the same for us. We all need people by our side who love us and keep us company.