4 Warning Signs of Senior Isolation
When it comes to the health of our older loved ones, it’s natural to want to make sure they are experiencing the best quality of life possible. Whether you’re their primary caregiver or just concerned with their well-being, you might notice changes in their daily routines or behaviours.
But how can you ensure someone you love isn’t experiencing senior isolation or loneliness? Isolation is one of the most common factors that can negatively impact the health and wellness of older adults. Still, it can be challenging to notice signs of someone experiencing senior isolation.
The priority of the British Columbia Seniors Living Association (BCSLA) is to advocate for senior living communities in BC and help individuals and families discover how our member communities can provide the hospitality and accommodations they deserve.
Below, we share warning signs of senior isolation so you can determine when it may be time to consider senior housing.
1. Lack of Social Connection
The most significant warning sign that a person may be experiencing senior isolation is if they are not engaging or interacting with others. There’s nothing wrong with spending time alone, but when this becomes a pattern in your loved one’s routine, it can be a cause for concern.
A lack of social connection can be common for older adults, especially those who live alone. For instance, mobility issues or lack of reliable transportation can limit their social calendar or cause them to withdraw socially from situations. Senior living communities in BC can help combat this by making social connection and engagement easy and convenient. Residents don’t have to leave their community to participate in activities, grab lunch with a neighbour, or simply enjoy the company of others.
2. Changes in Habits
Increased Buying Habits
Studies have shown that people who feel lonely and isolated tend to cope with these feelings by increasing the material goods they buy to compensate for their lack of social connections and create something to look forward to.
This practice has significantly increased due to the convenience of online shopping, which makes it easier to order products at the touch of a button. If you’ve noticed a parent or family member making more purchases than usual (especially items they don’t necessarily need or have use for), it’s important to talk to them and raise any concerns.
Lack of Appetite
While changes in appetite are common in older adults due to the slowing down of the digestive system, less of a need for energy, and hormonal changes, a lack of appetite can also indicate that a person is experiencing feelings of senior isolation. This can be especially if a person recently lost a loved one.
If you notice unexplained weight loss or weight gain, general lethargy, or changes in your loved one’s eating habits that persist for more than one week, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider to determine the cause.
3. Inability to Complete Tasks
When someone is experiencing senior isolation, even the simplest tasks can become overwhelming and challenging. For example, routine chores like taking out the trash or cleaning up the kitchen can become unmanageable hassles. This is typically caused by the feeling of being disconnected from friends and family and feeling a lack of support.
This may be a sign that your loved one isn’t feeling like themselves due to the emotional impact of senior isolation.
4. Physical Symptoms
Studies have suggested that isolation and lack of social relationships are associated with a higher risk for coronary heart disease and stroke. Another study found that loneliness has been linked to a 60% to 70% greater chance of death. Loneliness can manifest within physical symptoms and lead to serious health conditions, which is why it’s crucial to ask your loved one if they’ve experienced any of the following:
- Mobility Issues
- Weakened Immune System
How Can Senior Living Communities in BC Help?
If you’ve noticed any of these signs that may indicate your loved one is experiencing senior isolation, it’s important to take action as soon as possible in order to help them start enjoying a higher quality of life.
Senior living communities in BC can provide the social connections individuals need to lead healthier, more engaged lives. We invite you to browse our Member Directory to explore exceptional senior living communities throughout BC!