Research has shown the health risks linked to loneliness and social isolation, and older adults can be particularly vulnerable. As we age, it’s common for seniors to experience the loss of family and friends, live alone, and struggle with medical conditions that make getting out and connecting with others difficult.

It’s important to understand that dealing with chronic loneliness or social isolation can harm an individual’s overall health and well-being. Finding ways to socialize and engage in an active lifestyle can help counteract the risks. Learn more about the risks and get tips on how to stay connected in this blog curated by Golden Bell Senior Living.

Understanding the Health Risks of Loneliness and Social Isolation

It’s helpful to learn the meaning of loneliness and social isolation because the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Loneliness occurs when someone feels alone, whether they are isolated or surrounded by others. Social isolation occurs when an individual has very few social connections.

Unfortunately, there are health risks whether you or a loved one is experiencing loneliness, social isolation, or both. Here are some of the health risks associated with loneliness and social isolation:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Weakened immune system
  • Cognitive decline
  • Premature death
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obesity

Researchers believe that losing a sense of belonging and community can change an individual’s perception of the world around them. This feeling of mistrust can activate a natural defense mechanism in the body, which may cause inflammation and a buildup of plaque in arteries.

Over time, the inflammation and buildup can cause cancer cells to grow and increase inflammation in the brain leading to cognitive decline. The defense mechanism can also weaken the immune system, making someone more susceptible to illness and other diseases.

Finding Ways to Increase Meaningful Social Connections

Because an older adult can feel lonely when not socially isolated, it’s essential to look for ways to make meaningful connections with others. By doing so, you’re more likely to feel a sense of purpose and belonging — and have someone you can talk to during challenging times.

Here are five ways to stay connected with others:

1. Volunteer

Find a cause you’re passionate about and volunteer your time to help others. Volunteering can provide you with ways to make a difference, feel a sense of purpose, and build new relationships with others.

2. Pursue Your Interests

Think about what you enjoy doing or what new hobby you’d like to try. Explore a nearby community center, college or university, or senior living community. All may offer free or discounted classes for older adults. You’ll have the opportunity to meet others with similar interests while learning something new.

3. Contact Loved Ones

Set measurable goals for contacting loved ones. You might consider creating a schedule where you reach out to specific friends or family members on certain days of the week. Try different methods of communication, like phone calls, emails, video calls, or even letters. Invite your loved ones over for a visit if transportation is difficult.

4. Increase Physical Activity

Regular physical activity can help reduce your risk of health problems, and it can also improve your mood. Consult your doctor to see what exercises are best for you. Then, sign up for a fitness class or schedule regular walks around the block with a neighbor.

5. Adopt a Pet

If you love animals and are able to care for them, consider adopting a pet from a local shelter. Pets can provide around-the-clock companionship and offer a sense of responsibility and purpose.

Moving to a Senior Living Community

Senior living communities can offer numerous opportunities to connect with friends, pursue interests, and increase your physical activity. Most communities are pet-friendly and provide a maintenance-free lifestyle that removes some of the barriers that may be hindering you from living life to the fullest each day.

For example, senior living usually has on-site dining, maintenance and housekeeping services, and many life enrichment amenities like fitness centers, activities and events, and scheduled transportation.

Life at Golden Bell Senior Living

Senior living communities like Golden Bell provide the comforts of home with the added benefits of supportive care, engaging activities, and a maintenance-free lifestyle. With your daily needs met, your loved one will live more independently and have opportunities to meet friends, discover new interests, and live each day to the fullest.

Golden Bell Senior Living, family-owned for over five decades, offers a full continuum of care, including independent living, assisted living, and respite care. Residents have personalized care plans, are treated like family, and are greeted by name in a warm, welcoming environment.

Amenities and activities include:

  • Beautiful accommodations
  • Landscaped grounds and gardens
  • Community outings
  • Recreation and social activities
  • Chef-prepared meals
  • Scheduled transportation
  • Beauty and barber shop
  • Housekeeping and maintenance services

Please contact us to learn more about our communities or set up a tour. We’d love to hear from you and are happy to help answer any questions you have about senior living.