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Loneliness is a common struggle seniors face, and one that has more than an emotional impact. Loneliness and isolation can also affect cognitive and physical health.

Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco found that 43 percent of seniors say they feel lonely and isolated. A study published by National Institutes of Health found that loneliness in adults over age 60 can lead to:

  • Decreased participation in activities of daily living
  • Decline in mobility
  • Increased risk of death

In addition, the impact of loneliness can lead to increased risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia and a higher likelihood of depression, anxiety and/or stress. Loneliness isn’t unique to seniors who live alone.

Many of those who reported feeling lonely in the UCSF study were married or living with other people. Understanding the impacts of loneliness in our older loved ones is only part of the solution. How can we combat feelings of isolation and help our loved ones live a happier, more fulfilled life as they age?

First, it’s critical that we learn to recognize the common behavioral and physical signs of loneliness and/or depression, which include persistent sadness and lack of motivation or energy. Early intervention can have a positive impact on quality of life. Loneliness that is not addressed quickly can lead to more serious problems.

Lessening the effects of loneliness may be as simple as increasing social activities and connection. Here are a few suggestions to help fight loneliness:

  • Take advantage of technology to connect with family and friends.
  • Pursue shared interests with others, such as gardening or book club.
  • Play games at home, online or at a local community center.
  • Join a local exercise class.
  • Be active in your faith community.
  • Arrange Meals on Wheels and other social visits to your home.

At The Cottages, we strive to create an environment which fosters community and relationships, helping to prevent the feelings of loneliness and isolation faced by so many people living with dementia.

Each of our locations is divided into smaller communities within one building so caregivers are able to develop deeper relationships with residents. Every day, our residents are up and out of their room for the day to help them fight the temptation to isolate. Meals are all served family style, giving residents an opportunity to connect and socialize with each other. We arrange for others in the community to come to our locations to lead exciting and engaging activities. Most importantly, our skilled caregivers are trained on recognizing not only signs of memory impairment but also loneliness and depression.

If you are facing the difficult task of moving your loved one to a memory care facility, contact us today to learn more about the one-of-a-kind services provided at The Cottages.