Depression is a major health concern for seniors and the staggering statistics in which researchers have found social Isolation leads to shorter life expectancy, and more adverse effects of an older person's health including; increased risk of depression, mortality, cognitive decline/dementia, high blood pressure, elder abuse, and poor diet as well as declining physical health. For more in-depth research check out these links.
How Serious is Senior Isolation?
Review of Social Isolation
In the face of such staggering statistics, what can you do to help? Read on for a handy set of tips to help your loved.
MAD TASKER TIP TUESDAY
Ways to Reduce Isolation
Provide something to care for - Pets are great for this, but even a simple plant can relieve feelings of loneliness. Maintaining their purpose is integral part of fighting off depression and loneliness.
Share Meals - Share a meal with your loved one whenever possible, eating together is inherently social. Drop in caregivers for meal time are especially effective, they can visit and/or assist with eating whenever your not available.
Teach Technology - Digital technology can connect families from around the globe. Get your senior connected, training is readily available for your loved by professionals trained in the intricacies of senior learning.
Promote Activities - Accompanying your loved one takes the fear out of it, opening the opportunity to engage more readily. If your not the social type hire a caregiver to facilitate. They are well versed in coaxing seniors out into the community. Physical exercise alone makes a positive impact, Tai Chi is fantastic for seniors.
Check vision/hearing/cognition - often seniors with undiagnosed or untreated hearing/vision/cognitive loss will avoid social situations out of embarrassment or difficulty communicating.
Watch the drinks - alcohol is surprisingly common way for seniors to self medicate when trying to escape the loneliness. It is bad, bad news. Alcohol is a depressive, can be lethal with certain medications and complicates conditions common in older persons.
Separate any illness or grief from depression. Certain conditions exacerbate depressive symptoms; estimates show 25% of cancer patients and 50% of stroke patients experience depression. 15% of seniors who have lost a loved one experience chronic depression. Karen Swartz, M.D., Director of Clinical Programs at Johns Hopkins, maintains that patients with co-existing depression and chronic illnesses tend to focus more on the physical ailment, and therefore delay or impede full recovery from a mood disorder. Her advise? “Treat both the depression and the chronic illness simultaneously, setting aggressive treatment goals for both…. Do not settle for substandard treatment results — if one or both conditions is/are not responding to treatment, intensify or switch approaches."