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Loneliness & Health Complications in Seniors

Loneliness is a common problem among seniors, often for a variety of reasons. Older adults with health issues, financial burdens, no nearby family or mobility challenges are the most likely to be affected. Loneliness however, goes beyond a simple desire for social interaction. If left unaddressed, it can result in very real health complications. Today, Philadelphia Home Care Assistance is going to share some of those health complications so that families can protect the health and safety of their loved ones.

Increased Risk of Life-Threatening Injury

As people age, their strength, balance and coordination begins to decline. Eventually, abilities that were once taken for granted grow more difficult. As a result, falls are very common among seniors, which can result in broken bones or other serious, long-term injuries. Without having anyone who comes by to visit, seniors who become injured may be stranded in their homes and unable to reach a phone, a potentially deadly situation.

Increased Dementia Risk

Findings from a Dutch study reveal that seniors who feel lonely are 64 percent more likely to suffer from dementia than those who don’t. What’s more, it’s not social isolation that does this. Just the feeling alone is enough to increase risk. Researchers suggest that the stress of feeling unable to connect to other people may trigger negative psychological changes. However, others hypothesize that feeling lonely isn’t a cause of dementia, but rather an early symptom caused by deterioration of the brain’s communication centers.

Increased Heart Disease Risk

According to the latest research, people who don’t have a strong social support network tend to have higher rates of heart disease. Scientists aren’t certain of the precise cause, but many suspect that loneliness can bring about several other risk factors. These may include drinking, smoking and being sedentary. Stress, which wreaks havoc on the cardiovascular system, may be a strong contributor to these findings.

With several serious health problems so closely tied to loneliness, it’s important for seniors to engage in regular social activity. Whether it’s going to the store or chatting with a neighbor or in-home caregiver, even these small things can greatly reduce loneliness, thereby reducing the risk of health complications.

Home Care Assistance is a trusted provider of senior home care, offering live-in and hourly home care in Philadelphia. Seniors can receive help with daily activities and personal care, and can also enjoy companionship and emotional support. Call us at 215-645-4663 to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation and find out how our highly trained and compassionate caregivers can help your aging parent or loved one live a healthier, happier life at home.