How we can help tackle senior isolation

By Sally Writes Monday, 21 August 2017 18:06 0

THE world has been hit with an epidemic that could potential kill older people.

The crisis looming over our seniors today is social isolation. The consequences of senior isolation could seriously challenge and threaten the well-being of older people. In fact, older people who are isolated are twice as likely to die prematurely. Shockingly, the mortality rate could even match that of smokers, while being twice as dangerous as obesity. It’s not surprising that many people feel socially isolated given that around 7.2% of Europeans admit to never meeting up with relatives or friends. In fact over 1 in 10 older people over 65, across two-thirds of European countries, say they have no friends or never see them.

Social isolation can lead to illness and disability

Worringly, around 500,000 people in the UK aged over 60 spend at least one day on their own with no contact with other people. But social isolation can have serious health implications. Isolation can make people more vulnerable to developing conditions like dementia, becoming disabled, ending up in hospital, neglecting themselves and it can cause psychological distress.

But even just very simple things like eating meals with other people, or sharing hobbies, can make a huge difference. Social interaction can help to significantly lower depression, boost the immune system and help keep our brains active. Keeping active and involved in the community can become central to an older person's good health and well-being. 

What can you do?

Why not take up a new hobby and join a craft club or social group? There are lots of social clubs for seniors, and many more that would be suitable despite not being age specific. Creative clubs such as sewing or knitting can be great, as these activities bring with them a sense of purpose and enjoyment, which can make a big difference. And after all, it doesn’t matter what age you are to start sewing or knitting. Take inspiration from one 91-year-old man who spends his golden years knitting hats.. While sitting in his hospice bed, Mr Boogart has so far knitted around 8,8000 hats so far, which he donates to the homeless. He’s been knitting hats for 15 years and even now it only takes him two days to finish a hat. When asked why he does it, Mr Boogart says simply that he enjoys helping other people.

No matter how seniors are encouraged to become less isolated, it is important that you give those you know and love support and advice to enable them to do this. Just a small amount of human contact each week can improve lives and increase happiness, and this can have a dramatic effect on overall health in the future. So, if you know of somebody who you think may be isolated and suffering from loneliness, try reaching out to them today. You could transform their life. 

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