Loneliness in our elderly community and what you can do to help

A very serious issue that is affecting the elderly community is loneliness.

By KATHERINE YOUNG

Hill Top Home of Comfort

Posted April 18, 2014
Loneliness is an unpleasant and complex response to isolation or lack of companionship. Feeling extreme loneliness can increase an older person’s chances of premature death by 14 percent, according to research by John Cacioppo, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. New studies have shown that older men and women that have been experiencing loneliness also had high blood pressure, which leads to heart disease which is the number two killer in the United States.

During these studies loneliness was worse for high blood pressure than any other psychological or social factor, including depression. Weight loss and exercise reduce blood pressure by the same amount that loneliness increases it. Older lonely people also have problems with alcoholism, depression, weak immune system responses to illness, impaired sleep and suicide.

There are ways that you can help your elderly from being lonely. Start a conversation. If you have elderly neighbors take the time to introduce yourself and ask if they need help with anything such as shopping, going to the doctor, etc. Volunteer your time at a local facility. Facilities need volunteers and many depend on them to help with isolated resident/patients. Your contribution could be as small as a weekly telephone call to an isolated resident/patient. It could be visiting weekly with a few elderly people with no family or friends in the area.

Loneliness is very serious, especially with our senior citizens, please don’t ignore the signs and don’t be afraid to lend a hand and go that extra mile for that person that might just need a friend.


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