Senior citizens experiencing loneliness face a higher risk of developing a serious medical issue such as dementia, heart attack or stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that social isolation increases the risk of dementia by about 50% in older adults.
Researchers found that loneliness increased the chance of heart disease by nearly 30% in isolated individuals. Poor relationships amplified the risk of having a stroke by 32%. The chance of a premature death from social isolation may carry as much risk as an individual might incur from obesity or smoking.
Loneliness poses a danger to nursing home residents
Older adults may feel anxiety and depression after extended periods of loneliness. Unfortunately, understaffing at nursing homes is common. As reported by AARP, one caretaker may have responsibility for 20 patients during his or her shift.
Residents may develop feelings of isolation from waiting to receive medications, food or personal assistance from an aide. Physical activity may help reduce isolation, but when a patient requires assistance for mobility, the lack of immediate human contact may bring up negative feelings such as depression.
Frequent visits may reduce social isolation and bring to light neglect
Facility residents typically benefit from frequent visits by a loved one. When an in-person visit is not possible, a phone or video chat through a mobile device may help overcome feeling lonely or isolated. Regular communication may also bring to light issues of neglect or abuse.
Some of the more serious signs of isolation or neglect include refusing to speak and a loss of motivation. Physical signs may show as bruises or bedsores.
A discovery of neglect in a nursing home may require a legal action. An award for damages and suffering may result and also bring about a transfer to a better facility where a loved one may recover.