Without a doubt, loneliness affects people from all walks of life, but according to the National Poll on Healthy Aging performed by the University of Michigan, seniors feel the impacts of loneliness significantly more than other age groups. The survey reveals, “The findings from this poll suggest that millions of older adults across the U.S. feel lonely. Research shows that chronic loneliness can impact older adults’ memory, physical well-being, mental health, and life expectancy. In fact, some research suggests that chronic loneliness may shorten life expectancy even more than being overweight or sedentary, and just as much as smoking”. Not only are the effects of loneliness great and possibly detrimental, but the levels of loneliness in seniors are significantly higher than other age groups. These shocking facts silently pose an important question; what can we, as caregivers, family, friends, or neighbors do about it?
Numerous studies have been done to research ways to alleviate loneliness among seniors; the solutions varying from simple to extraordinary. On the simplistic side are ideas such as regular calls from family or friends, community activity engagement, and volunteering. The more research is done on the subject, however, reveals the more complicated solutions. These ideas included animal robots to simulate the companionship of a pet without the upkeep for a live animal, artificially intelligent machines that attempt to start conversations with their elderly housemates, and complicated medical procedures. There are hundreds of ways to fix this problem, but not every solution is effective for every senior, since every person has a different life perspective and what makes them lonely.
The most effective responses to loneliness, are responses that start at the root of the issue. Solving the problem starts at finding the reason for loneliness. A recent loss, long-distance moves, and social or cognitive disorders all are significant causes of feeling lonely, and addressing these issues makes the most difference when assisting seniors, or looking for help. As a senior living community, Bel Aire Senior Living understands this concept of identifying the reason, which leads us to help the individual in the most appropriate way possible.
The staff at Bel Aire in American Fork understands that in order to understand a senior’s needs, emotional or mental, you must get to know them personally! That’s why we encourage our staff to spend time with our residents and learn about their life experiences, as time permits. We have found that as a team and even a community family, our efforts to decrease loneliness in the lives of our seniors have made an enormous difference in making them feel loved, happier and that they are living a higher quality of life.