Older individuals are especially vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness due to loss of friends, family, mobility, and even income. Social isolation and loneliness have a damaging effect on health and an over well-being. Isolation or loneliness can impact blood pressure and of course the development of depression, and it is more prevailing in the winter time. Therefore, it is even more important to remain in contact with any of your age relatives, friends, or neighbors.
The cold and the snow make it easier for people to become solitary and remain in doors with no contact to anyone. The cold can have a negative effect on someone especially someone who is already feeling lonely and isolated. This is very often older individuals that are physically challenged and have become fearful of certain weather conditions. Even though it does not snow in Florida there are many individuals that are fearful of the wind and rain, because of the chance of a possible fall. In addition, the cold wet weather can increase their chance of developing pneumonia. The number of elderly living alone has increased over the years and it was last calculated at 27 percent in 2013 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The cold winter months can make things difficult for aging adults. Seniors are not only more vulnerable to illness and infection when the temperatures drop significantly, but the snow and ice can also make them more susceptible to falls and accidents. One of the most significant effects winter can have on aging adults, however, is the increased risk for social isolation. Not everyone who lives alone is lonely, but the elderly are at an increase risk of becoming mentally or physically ill because of it. Isolation and loneliness can have a torturing effect on the soul.
There is a wonderful article in the New York Times last year about an man that died alone in his New York apartment, and this article shows just how isolation and loneliness can affect a person and even effect the people that find this person who died. Humans are inherently social beings, and this doesn’t change as we grow older. However, many seniors find themselves living alone with no family close by, either due to a spouse passing away or grown children moving out of the area. In addition, today’s busy lifestyles don’t always allow family to visit their aging relatives as often as they may desire. Furthermore, with the economy it the state it is in, family may not have the funds to see an an aging relative who is miles away, so it is very important to maintain some contact even if by phone, email, or snail mail.
Seniors can face a variety of problems if they are not staying socially connected. Social isolation in the elderly can affect both a person’s health and well-being. Feeling isolated can lead to detrimental health effects in seniors, like increased blood pressure, a higher risk for dementia, more falls and hospital stays, and even can increase the risk of death. Feeling lonely can also lead to depression and poor physical and mental health. A Place for Mom has some wonderful tips on preventing-senior-isolation-in-winter.