A woman suffering loneliness stares out the window.

Types of Loneliness in the Elderly

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Loneliness is described by Wikipedia as an unpleasant feeling caused by isolation. 

Although everyone may experience some feelings of loneliness within their lifetime, according to BMC Public Health, around 50% of individuals over the age of 60 are at risk of social isolation and one-third will experience loneliness later in life. While there is a clear link between loneliness and mental health, other health factors can also be affected. 

Three types of loneliness that may affect seniors are emotional loneliness, social loneliness, and existential loneliness. Let’s take an in-depth look at each and its possible effects.

Emotional Loneliness

Emotional Loneliness is described by Psychology Today as a type of loneliness associated with the lack of personal intimate relationships or attachments.  According to Social Self, 44% of baby boomers sometimes or always feel lonely and 16% have no close friends.

Social Loneliness

Social Loneliness is described by World Health Organization as the pain that is felt by an individual when social connection needs are not met. Social interaction is very important for individuals, especially for the elderly community and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 an older are considered to be socially isolated.

Existential Loneliness

Existential Loneliness is different than other types of loneliness. According to Oxford Academic, the feeling of existential loneliness is related to a lack of meaning in an individual’s life. When an individual becomes gravely ill, they tend to reflect on their life and the meaning of their existence.

Effects of Loneliness

As an elderly adult you are at increased risk of experiencing loneliness due to living alone, loss of a loved one, chronic illness or hearing loss. According to World Health Organization, isolation can be linked to reducing the quality of life, damaging the physical and mental health of an individual and shortening life expectancy of elderly people. 

It has been reported by Good RX Health and the CDC that there is strong evidence to show that many adults over the age of 50 who are experiencing loneliness put their health at risk, which studies found that loneliness has been linked to depression, anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown the following:

  • Loneliness is associated with about 50% increased risk of dementia
  • Poor social relationships are associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease.
  • Poor social relationships are associated with a 32% increased risk of a stroke.
  • Loneliness among heart failure patients is nearly 4 times increased risk of death, 68% risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.

How to Overcome Loneliness

There are many resources available to overcome and combat loneliness. They key is to reach out to someone to let them know that you are having difficulties. If you ever have a concern about yourself or a loved one(s), please consult with your doctor. No concern or worry is too small. It is better to have the knowledge that you need when it comes to your mental health or the mental health of a loved one(s).

At Culpepper Place of Olive Branch, we take pride in providing the best for the residents within our community. Please contact us today to find out why we were voted the best assisted living community in Desoto County.

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