Healthy Living Blog – Loneliness and Social Isolation in Older Adults during the Holiday Season
The holidays are full of merry and cheer, but not for older adults who live separately from their families. They may feel lonely and isolated during the holidays if they aren’t socially connected to others. Loneliness can cause physical and mental health issues, so it’s important for older adults to know how to combat it to stay healthy.
Health effects of loneliness
Loneliness and social isolation can come with serious health risks for older adults. Studies show that:
- Social isolation can increase a person’s risk of early death by a lot.
- Social isolation is linked to a 50% percent increased risk of dementia.
- Loneliness is linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
- Loneliness and social isolation can increase a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke.
Who is at a higher risk of loneliness?
Older adults who are:
- Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)
- Victims of elder abuse
Combating holiday loneliness and social isolation
Older adults and their caregivers can do the following to fight off loneliness:
- Communicate often: Older adults can ask their family members to visit them in-person. If that’s not possible, caregivers can teach older adults how to video chat using Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom. Family members and friends can check in with their older loved ones during each holiday; they can also set up a schedule for when to talk with their older loved one after the holiday season.
- Find events at local organizations: Senior centers, places of worship, libraries, and museums have many low-cost community events that older adults can go to. They can connect with other people to stay social.
- Explore hobbies: Older adults can join groups and clubs for a hobby they’re familiar with. They can also join classes to learn a new hobby. This helps them stay social and meet new people.
- Seek professional advice: Older adults can go to their doctor or see a mental health provider if they need more help and resources.
Have questions or curious to learn more? Please reach out to our Health Center and make an appointment to speak with a doctor. AACI provides services in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and many other languages. Call (408) 975-2763 to schedule your appointment today!