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The Real Cost of Aging Alone

Tuesday January 5, 2016

Many of us value the quiet and peace of being along once in a while. What if solitude wasn’t a choice, but a reality? The inevitable process of aging can often push our loved ones to the side to make space for the next generation. Kids grow up to have kids and start lives of their own, aging parents and grandparents naturally loose some of their mobility and ability. Simple tasks such as cooking and hygiene become more difficult as we age due to our bodies naturally slowing down. The reality is, many seniors are often left to fend for themselves. Did you know that a quarter of all seniors in Canada live alone? And, of that number, those over 80 years old make up the majority.

Aging alone is usually not a choice made by most seniors, here are the top three factors that affect our isolated seniors.

Isolation

Many of us can recall a time when we’ve felt isolated. Seniors who have been left to age alone can have overwhelming feelings of isolation.  According to a 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, seniors who experience chronic feelings of isolation are at a higher risk for mortality. They also take longer to heal and may get sick more frequently. A loved one’s mental state will almost always affect their physical state. Studies have shown that when seniors are happy and fulfilled, they are less likely to succumb to cognitive decline.  Furthermore, when seniors are socially fulfilled, cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s, may actually improve. For example, Alzheimer’s patients may regain memories and stabilize, rather than getting more severe  

Loneliness

Loneliness, like isolation, has grave effects on our aging loved ones. Did you know that loneliness has been shown to cause high blood pressure? According to a study published in Psychology and Aging, a direct relation has been found between prolonged feelings of loneliness and increases in systolic blood pressure over a 4-year period. Lonely seniors are also less optimistic about the future.

Abuse

Statistics have shown that isolated seniors are more likely to become victims of abuse in long term care homes; however those aging in their own homes may fall victim to a different type of abuse. The Centers for Disease Control have seen a sharp increase in alcohol and drug abuse among seniors, especially those living alone. They are far more likely to die from overdoses than someone who has companionship. Prescription medicine may also lead to dangerous addictions and mismanagement.

Growing old is a process that everyone will experience. Although it’s easy to lose track of our loved ones from time to time, a simple phone call or weekend visit can make a world of difference.

Watch this touching story of a 98-year-old woman living by herself:

Junkmail: Call your Grandma

Do you have a loved one that needs companionship or a little extra help around the house? Check out Senior for Seniors and see how professional and personalized senior companionship can help your loved ones.

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