By Dave Link, Eastside News
When the weather turns cold and streets become snow covered, it’s easy to want to just stay home, stay indoors and hibernate. In other words, become isolated. But this social isolation can affect older adults’ physical and mental health.
Researchers have linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s and even death. The National Institute of Aging reports socially isolated people are more susceptible to illness and have a death rate of 2-3 times higher than those who are not socially isolated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines loneliness as the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact. Social isolation is a lack of social connections. Social isolation can lead to loneliness in some people, while others can feel lonely without being socially isolated.
People who find themselves unexpectedly alone due to the death of a spouse or partner, separation from friends or family, retirement, loss of mobility and lack of transportation are at particular risk.
A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine points out that more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely. Nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. The report also shows minorities, immigrants and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations are at a high risk of loneliness.
One of the best methods to combat social isolation and loneliness is to become involved in programs designed for older adults. Goodman Community Center has a selection of programs and activities each weekday that contribute to the overall wellness — mental, physical, social — of older adults. Many programs are on-site, but some are also offered virtually.
Contact Gayle Laszewski at 608-204-8032 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Abby Sibilski at 608-204-8027 (email@example.com) to find out what programs are tailored to your needs.
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