Let us walk to end loneliness
May 03, 2017
EVENT DATE: May 21, 2017
Loneliness is a terrible thing. For the past 30 years of my life I have dedicated my professional efforts to uplifting the lives of older adults. Among my many roles in Aging Services I have so loved my time helping them to stay engaged and connected to the world around them. I have driven them to medical and non-medical appointments and listened to their stories of not hearing from anyone in days. I have called family members and asked them to make a call to their senior. In typical fashion elders want to bother no-one. They will wait for the phone call or the visit and suffer in silence. For many there is a lack of deep, engaging communication with other human beings. They feel their sense of self ebb and self-worth hit rock bottom. Here are some of the more recent findings regarding loneliness and aging Americans:
• 18 percent of seniors live alone, while 43 percent report feeling lonely on a regular basis, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
• Lonely seniors are more likely to decline and die faster. The aforementioned UCSF study also found that people 60-years-old and older who reported feeling lonely saw a 45 percent increase in their risk for death. Isolated elders also had a 59 percent greater risk of mental and physical decline than their more social counterparts.
• 1 in 7 people with Alzheimer's disease live alone, according to a recently released report from the Alzheimer's Association. • Loneliness is contagious. Older adults who feel lonely are more prone to behave in ways that may cause other people to not want to be around them. Psychologists from the University of Chicago who analyzed data from the Farmingham Heart Study, a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular study, found that solitary seniors have a tendency to further isolate themselves by pushing people away and not making efforts to engage with others.