As humans, we are social creatures. For most of us, interacting with others is a regular part of the day. We speak and share with family members and coworkers. We interact with neighbors, friends, and even store clerks. Even those who prefer spending most of their time alone still rely on others often.
While spending time with others comes naturally to most, this is not true for everyone. Imagine going an entire day without speaking to anyone. How about an entire week? Although constant interaction is common among many, there are those among us who are isolated.
What Is Senior Isolation?
Senior Isolation is the shorthand term for social isolation in older adults. While social isolation can happen to people of all ages, social services experts claim that lack of contact with others is a serious issue among older adults. According to the Administration on Aging, 28 percent of Americans over 65 live alone. If we look at just American women over 65, 46 percent live alone.
But - just because someone lives alone does not mean they are isolated. Other factors contributing to isolation include:
Nervousness toward driving or traveling
Any and all of these factors can contribute to Senior Isolation. Whether it’s due to a lack of reaching out or a lack of outreach, the side effects of social isolation are substantial.
Senior Isolation is Not a Helpless Situation
Although older adults are at an increased risk for isolation or aloneness, there are steps you can take to prevent or alleviate it. Due to our social natures, humans thrive when living within a community setting. Community settings provide opportunities for socialization, exploring hobbies, and developing real friendships.
Identifying transportation issues can be another way to address isolation. Without safe, reliable, and comfortable transportation, some individuals prefer to skip errands or visits. Check which local transportation services are available in your or your loved one’s area.
Aging Doesn’t Equal Loneliness
Although it’s easy to cast all older adults as lonely and isolated, this stereotype just isn’t true. In a January 2016 study, 628 adults 65 or older were surveyed about their loneliness. According to the survey, 59 percent of the respondents said they “never” feel lonely. By contrast, six percent of those surveyed claimed they feel lonely “often.” This isn’t to say Senior Isolation isn’t worth discussing. For that six percent of people, isolation and loneliness are very real, but remember, just because someone is aging it doesn’t mean they’re lonely.
Many older adults lead active, joyful, thriving lives that are filled with excitement, laughter, and happiness. In the end, it’s less about the age of an individual and more about the environment.