The Need for Companion Care: 8 Unsettling Senior Isolation Facts

January 22, 2018 | BY PHS Staff

There aren’t many health risks more serious — or more misunderstood — than senior isolation. The likelihood of living alone increases with each passing year, and many older adults spend their golden years in loneliness. This has an understandable impact on emotional well-being. But many people underestimate the damage that isolation and loneliness have on seniors’ physical health.

senior isolation

At Preferred HealthStaff, this is an issue we know all too well. As a trusted provider of companion care and other in-home senior services, we’ve seen the negative effects of isolation on seniors. Effects that, in many cases, could have been delayed or prevented with the help of companion care.

We aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed how dangerous isolation can be for older adults. Over the past several years, studies have uncovered an indisputable link between isolation and poor health in seniors. Below, we’ve collected eight of the most troubling facts and statistics from this research.

Senior Isolation by the Numbers

  1. More than 1 in 4 adults over the age of 65 lives alone. For seniors over the age of 85, the figure is nearly 1 in 2.
  2. Prolonged social isolation reduces a person’s expected lifespan by 7 to 8 years — an impact comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes each day.
  3. Poor physical or cognitive health put seniors at higher risk of isolation. But when that happens, seniors’ physical and cognitive health declines at an even faster rate.
  4. Seniors’ risk of suffering from elder abuse increases when seniors become isolated. It is also more likely that abuse will escalate and persist.
  5. Social isolation increases the risk of high blood pressure in older adults by 140% — nearly 3 times the risk increase associated with diabetes.
  6. Isolated seniors are at a 29% increased risk of heart disease. They are 32% more likely to suffer a stroke.
  7. Researchers have found that social isolation produces physical changes in brain matter and cognitive function, putting isolated seniors at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
  8. Socially isolated seniors are 4 to 5 times as likely to be hospitalized compared to non-isolated seniors.

Turning to Companion Care for Help

While the above facts and statistics may be troubling, there are steps we can take to safeguard seniors against isolation. The more social contact seniors receive — from family, from friends, and social interactions in their community — the less likely they are to suffer from senior isolation. If your mom or dad lives alone, consider making more visits to their home, calling them more frequently, or helping them become more socially active through local clubs and activities.

You might also want to consider companion care services, which provide seniors with routine visits by compassionate caregiver companions. Companion care is a great option for isolated seniors who don’t require specialized physical care, and for seniors who are separated from family by distance or busy schedules.

Find companion care services for an isolated loved one by contacting Preferred HealthStaff today. Call (866) 943-9791 to schedule a FREE in-home consultation or learn more about companion care.