Extended periods of loneliness can be harmful to anyone feeling isolated, but its effects can have a significant impact on our elderly community. This month, we have relaunched our ‘Combatting Elderly Loneliness’ campaign, just in time for the Christmas and holiday season when a lot of people will be celebrating with their loved ones.
Loneliness and social isolation can have a huge effect on health. It can have a detrimental impact on mental health and has been linked to an increased risk of developing depression, anxiety, stress, low self-esteem and sleep problems. Loneliness has also been associated with a 40% increased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
However, it’s not just mental health that is affected by loneliness; physical health can also be impacted. Deficiencies in social relationships have been associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases; after analysing studies of over 181,000 adults, research conducted by Donovan and Holt-Lunstad found loneliness and isolation were linked to a 29% increase risk in developing coronary heart disease and 32% increase risk of stroke.
Campaign to End Loneliness found 76% of family GPs said between 1 to 5 patients visit their surgery mainly because they are lonely.
Loneliness is the feeling of not receiving their desired amount of socialisation, it can lead to people feeling socially isolated from their community. 1.9 million older people have said they often feel ignored or invisible and 9% say they feel cut off from society (Campaign to End Loneliness). Research has found that 17% of older people have said they are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week, whilst 11% say this contact is less than once a month, and for a further 49, their main form of company is the television or their pets.
No one should feel alone, especially within their own home. The festive season, most people are making plans to celebrate with family and friends, can be one of loneliest times of year of some people.
At Heritage Healthcare, our aim is to support people within their homes so they can continue to live comfortably and independently. Our services include companionship, so our clients know they will have a friendly and trusted Care Assistant visiting them when they wish to have a catch-up or enjoy a trip out into their community.
Next week, we will be discussing the ways in which we can all help those within our community to feel less lonely during the festive season.