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Understanding the Link: Social Isolation and Alzheimer’s Disease

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Can loneliness really be a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease? There has been a lot of research around the topic lately and scientists are trying to find the answer to that very question. While there hasn’t been a definitive answer yet, some studies are showing a correlation between loneliness and the development of late-life dementia.

What we do know is that as a person ages, their need for social connections is just as strong as ever. The need to develop interpersonal relationships, engage in social interaction, and stimulate the brain are all important aspects of healthy aging.

Facts about Social Isolation in Seniors

  1. Loneliness negatively impacts physical and mental health. Feeling lonely can cause a senior to become isolated. This isolation can cause poor health habits, a lack of physical exercise and decrease in social functioning. Finding and exploring new hobbies can help encourage important social interactions.
  2. Social isolation is a factor in long-term illnesses. Family members and close loved ones are less likely to identify health issues in seniors who are isolated. This means some seniors may not be getting the healthcare they need for unidentified illnesses.  Regular check-ups with a doctor can help in early diagnosis. 
  3. Social isolation can lead to depression. It’s no surprise that social isolation can lead to feelings of depression, loneliness and anxiety. It’s important for seniors to seek medical attention and treatment for feelings associated with depression. 
  4. Geographic isolation can lead to social isolation. As loved ones and family members build their lives in different states and cities, it is common for seniors to experience loneliness. By finding groups to join in the area or moving closer to family, they can maintain valuable social relationships.  
  5. Loss of a spouse can cause loneliness for seniors. Losing a spouse is difficult at any age, but sometimes it can be especially hard on older adults. Some rely heavily on the companionship of their spouse, so the loss can be especially jarring.  It’s important for seniors to have support from friends and loved ones during a time of grief.

How to Deal with Senior Loneliness

One of the most important things you can do for a loved one who feels lonely and isolated is encourage them to find ways to stay engaged socially. Even if you don’t live nearby, you can find senior groups and exercise classes, or you can encourage them to explore new hobbies in a social setting. The goal is to help them stay sharp by engaging them physically, socially and mentally.

Engaging Social Interactions at Peregrine Senior Living

If you start to notice the signs of social isolation in your loved one, it might be time to consider an . Peregrine Senior Living offers many benefits for our residents, including opportunities for staying socially active. Our life-affirming culture sets us apart and helps our residents find continued growth, exploration and learning in their retirement years. That’s the Peregrine Way®, and you will only find it here at our memory care community.

Written by
Stephen Sarsfield Bowman

More Articles By
Stephen Sarsfield Bowman

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